This legislation is the most important legislation introduced in this Parliament in the last three years. I think it is one of the most important bilateral and trade agreements ever negotiated by a New Zealand government – certainly since the agreement on closer economic relations with Australia was signed 25 years ago. The selected committee notes the concerns expressed by a number of others with regard to human rights. Experience shows that cooperation with countries accelerates the process of reform and change, but that this isolation slows down this process. I share the hope of the chosen committee that New Zealand`s closer relations with China as a result of this agreement will make an indirect, small but positive contribution to China`s reform in this area. National is very pleased to support this agreement. We see this as a historic and unique opportunity for this country to move forward. The biggest challenge facing this country over the next decade is to return to the head of the OECD, rather than reducing them as we have done over the past nine years. It may have taken nine years for the Labour Party to get to this point, but it seems that it has finally understood that this country needs to move forward. I guess she will not have time to convince the voters. The New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement is a bilateral free trade agreement signed in April 2008 between the People`s Republic of China and New Zealand.
It is China`s first free trade agreement with a developed country and New Zealand`s largest trade agreement since the 1983 agreement establishing closer economic relations with Australia.  The New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement was signed in Beijing on April 7, 2008, after negotiations continued over 15 years. It came into force on 1 October 2008, after ratification by the New Zealand Parliament. The provisions of the agreement are expected to be phased in gradually over a 12-year period and fully into force in 2019. The parties that vote against the bill, however well-intentioned, really miss New Zealand`s chances. Could they seriously suggest that a free trade agreement could exist better than this one? The New Zealand First Party, for example, says that there could of course be a better free trade agreement, and if there had been a better one, faster liberalization, it would probably have supported it. Is this the case with the Maori or Green party? I wouldn`t think so. Based on what I am hearing, these parties are fundamentally opposed to free trade. But I would like to ask one of these three parties – the one who said she would support such an agreement under reasonable terms – if she could really imagine that a country the size of China would negotiate a free trade agreement that, in just over a decade` time, would move from the current level of tariffs to no tariffs. This party is certainly only fighting for a year or two, and that is not a good reason to vote against the bill.
“New Zealand and China have also signed binding labour and environmental agreements to promote dialogue and cooperation in these two important areas,” said Helen Clark. Professor Jane Kelsey also drew the Committee`s attention to the fact that the obligations of the most advantaged nations mean that any new free trade agreement will have the domino effect of further alienating foreign investment from Parliament`s control. So at a time when the government is rebalancing services and taking over state ownership because the market model is not in the national interest, it is moving in the other direction to pursue free trade agreements like this. Market access was the fundamental problem, and this free trade agreement brings a huge qualitative change to New Zealand. That is not the whole answer and I would like to take this opportunity to wish the New Zealand team in Geneva good luck over the next 4 or 5 decisive days.