( dpa ) - New Zealand and China have concluded talks on a free trade pact, which is expected to be signed by April, Trade Minister Phil Goff said on Monday.
The 15 rounds of negotiations have been watched keenly by a number of other nations as it is the first free trade agreement that China has negotiated with a developed country and more are expected to follow.
Goff said the proposed deal would see China phase out tariffs on agriculture products from New Zealand, the world's biggest single exporter of dairy products, while New Zealand removes its remaining tariffs on Chinese clothing and footwear.
Goff said his negotiators were fine tuning about 1,000 pages of text before the agreement goes before the cabinet for approval.
He has said previously that he was confident China would sign separate, but parallel, agreements on labour and environment standards as part of the deal.
The Green Party is expected to oppose the pact when it goes before parliament, Radio New Zealand reported.
It quoted trade spokesman Russel Norman as saying the party strongly opposed a deal with a country that had failed to ratify basic International Labour Organisation standards on the right to collective bargaining and freedom of association for workers.
Norman claimed that seven million people in Chinese concentration camps worked 16 hours a day for no pay to produce goods which were sold in New Zealand.
The government has estimated that the pact could increase New Zealand exports to China by up to 400 million New Zealand dollars (about 304 million US dollars) a year, but exporters said the deal would be meaningless unless it forced China to drop technical barriers to trade that prevent New Zealand manufacturers competing fairly with Chinese producers.
And the Retailers' Association said any agreement should include safeguards to ensure the quality of Chinese goods imported into New Zealand.