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Premier’s fruitful visit to NZ pushes bilateral relations to new heights

China and New Zealand have inked a cooperation agreement on the Belt and Road initiative and agreed to upgrade their free trade agreement (FTA) during Premier Li Keqiang’s four-day visit to New Zealand on March 26-29, which took the bilateral relations to new heights.

“Together, we kept on scaling new heights and setting new records in China’s relations with Western developed countries,” Premier Li stated in a signed article published on March 27 in the local newspaper, The New Zealand Herald.

New Zealand became the first among Western developed countries to sign a cooperation agreement with China on the Belt and Road initiative on March 27. Premier Li and his New Zealand counterpart, Bill English, witnessed the signing of the document in Wellington.

The two countries, which have highly compatible development strategies and complementary economies, will create new business opportunities by enhancing cooperation on the Belt and Road initiative, proposed by China in 2013 with an aim to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient land and maritime Silk Road trade routes, Premier Li said.

In his article, Premier Li mentioned a long list of the “ground-breaking” cooperation between the two countries, noting that New Zealand was the first Western developed country to conclude bilateral negotiations on China’s accession to the World Trade Organization, the first to recognize China’s full market-economy status, and the first to sign and implement a bilateral FTA with China. It was also the first Western developed country to join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member.

Meanwhile, the two sides agreed to start talks on upgrading the bilateral FTA in late April. Premier Li said upgrading the FTA, which took effect in 2008, will promote the development of bilateral economic and trade ties and better benefit the two peoples.

Noting rising protectionism and counter-globalization, Premier Li said in talks with English that both sides should adhere to the UN Charter principles, and jointly and steadily push forward economic globalization and create a more open global market.