China and New Zealand will increase agricultural cooperation and upgrade their free trade agreement to further cut tariffs and boost exchanges.

Premier Li Keqiang on Monday met with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who will end his six-day visit on Friday.

China will work to expand trade within the framework of the FTA and create conditions to begin negotiations on broadening the agreement, Li said. China will also expand cooperation with the Oceanian partner in whole industrial chains of agricultural and animal husbandry investments, food safety and other areas, he added.

In 2004, New Zealand was the first developed country to recognize China’s full market economy status, and it signed a free trade agreement with China in April 2008, which took effect six months later.

Bilateral trade has seen double-digit growth over the past eight years, and China became New Zealand’s biggest export market in 2014.

Key said New Zealand will enhance cooperation with China in agriculture and animal husbandry, and will work to upgrade the FTA.

The two countries’ industrial complementarity will continue to increase their trade, as China, a manufacturer, needs to import many agricultural goods from the partner, said Chen Fengying, a global economy researcher at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

New Zealand maintains advantages in agricultural products and animal husbandry, making it the second-largest economy in Oceania, after Australia.

Key is making his sixth visit to China, following Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit last week, in which he visited Beijing and Shanghai. Both Oceanic powers have eyed the Chinese market as a driving force for their domestic economies.

“There exists competition between New Zealand and Australia for a larger share of the Chinese market. The two visits were scheduled within a week,” Chen said.

By HU YONGQI Apr. 19, 2016 on China Daily

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