New Zealand has become the latest country to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea, with New Zealand prime Minister John Key arriving in Seoul on Monday to sign the bilateral trade agreement.
Key will be joined by Korean president Park Guen-hye to sign the FTA that is expected to provide a boost to New Zealand exports, with kiwifruit, wine, dairy and beef exporters to benefit from tariff reductions.
“If we didn’t conclude this deal, we were facing the prospect of slowly being squeezed out of this market as Korea expanded its networks of FTAs,” New Zealand trade minister Tim Groser told the NZ Herald.
New Zealand is now one of more that 50 countries to sign FTAs with Korea, though some products may take up to 15 years to become tariff free. Over six years, the 45 per cent tariff on kiwifruit will be reduced to 0 per cent, with butter, cheese, wine, wood and salmon all having their import tariffs cut.
South Korea is New Zealand’s fifth largest trade partner, with New Zealand’s food and beverage exports accounting for 41 per cent of its NZ$1.55bn (US$1.17bn) in total exports to the Asian nation in 2012, according to New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.