A free trade agreement with China is his country’s most recent successful effort to increase trade and investment around the world, Roy Ferguson, New Zealand’s ambassador to the U.S., told GlobalAtlanta during his visit to Georgia.
Mr. Ferguson said New Zealand is actively pursuing similar trade agreements with the Gulf States, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the ten Southeast Asian nations of ASEAN, and that he is hopeful the Doha Development Round easing trade of agricultural goods globally will be approved by the end of the year.
“We are the first of the developed countries to have a free trade agreement with China, and we are optimistic about Doha,” he said.
An unabashed free trader, the ambassador cited New Zealand companies doing business in Georgia such as Glen Eden Wool Carpet Inc., as potential beneficiaries of a free trade agreement with New Zealand. Glen Eden imports high quality wools from New Zealand for which duties must be paid.
Concerning a New Zealand FTA with the U.S., he said talks are continuing between Washington and the four-nation trans-Pacific economic partnership, which includes New Zealand, Brunei, Chile and Singapore. Given those discussions, he doesn’t see a New Zealand bilateral agreement with the U.S. before the trans-Pacific process is completed.
He added that the FTA the U.S. signed with Australia four years ago was achieved because “the Australian economy is significantly larger than ours.”
Nevertheless, he said he looked forward to an appointment with Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue following the interview, especially since the governor has been appointed to the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.
Besides manufactured and agricultural goods, the agreement with China also applies to services, which, Mr. Ferguson said, were important because New Zealand continues to attract tourists from China and Chinese students desirous of attending New Zealand’s universities.
Despite changes in governments, New Zealand has remained consistent in its support of closer trade relations with China over the years.
New Zealand was the first country to recognize China as having full market economic status and it was the first to sign an agreement promoting its entry into the World Trade Organization.
During his visit, Mr. Ferguson attended a breakfast hosted by Ian Latham, honorary consul for New Zealand in Atlanta, and a reception with the Australian New Zealand and American Chamber of Commerce.
He also met with Mayor Shirley Franklin and visited the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.