New Zealand prime minister visits China to sign trade pact

Other News Materials 6 April 2008 15:12 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark arrived in Beijing on Sunday ahead of the signing of a free-trade agreement with China on Monday.

Clark will also hold formal talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, China's foreign ministry said.

Last week, Clark told New Zealand's political television programme Agenda that the free-trade pact would be "comprehensive" and "high quality."

She confirmed that the agreement would allow some specialist Chinese workers, such as chefs or Chinese medical practitioners, to work in New Zealand.

She also said China had committed to a phased reduction of agricultural tariffs.

Two-way trade between China and New Zealand is worth more than 4.8 billion New Zealand dollars (3.8 billion US dollars) a year.

Chinese exports account for about 80 per cent of the two-way trade.

The trade pact is expected to bring an extra 200 to 400 million New Zealand dollars per year to the New Zealand economy for the next 20 years.

Clark said she would raise China's treatment of Tibetans in her talks with Wen.

She told Agenda she would not question the status of Tibet within China, but said she would "raise it as an issue of how human rights can be respected in the country".

One minister in Clark's multi-party government declined the prime minister's invitation to witness the signing of the agreement on Monday because of China's recent tough handling of independence protests and riots by Tibetans.