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New Zealand PM ends China tour
www.chinaview.cn 2005-05-31 16:23:47

    BEIJING, May 31 (Xinhuanet) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark left Beijing Tuesday afternoon, concluding her three-day working visit to China.

    During the visit, Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Clark and Premier Wen Jiabao held talks with her in Beijing on Monday.

    The two sides exchanged views on bilateral ties, regional and international affairs and vowed to promote the building of a Sino-New Zealand free trade area.

    Clark began her visit Sunday evening as guest of Wen.

    China and New Zealand kicked off FTA talks last December, seven-months after New Zealand became the first developed country to recognize China's market economy status.

    The talks has gone through three rounds of negotiation covering commodity and service trade, investment and other economic sectors and the next round will be held in China in July.

    "We exchanged stance and layouts on the FTA in the first rounds and will then discuss more specific topics in the next one," said an official with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, who declined to be named.

    Sino-New Zealand trade hit 2.5 billion US dollars in 2004, double that in 2001, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Chinese manufacture products surged in the New Zealand market and New Zealand's agriculture and forestry exports to China continued to soar.

    China will "positively and prudently" push forward the FTA talks along with New Zealand in line with mutual-respect, equality and mutual benefits, Wen told Clark during a one-hour talk in the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing Monday afternoon.

    China will also further enhance cooperation with New Zealand onagriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, energy, and resource exploration and development, and expand exchanges on education andculture, Wen said.

    Clark hailed trade and economic cooperation, saying New Zealandhas accomplished "three firsts" in its relationship with China as a developed country: the first to conclude a bilateral market access agreement with China for its entry to the World Trade Organization; the first to recognize China's status as a market economy and the first to start FTA negotiations with China.

    New Zealand is now aiming at being the first developed country to conclude FTA talks with China, Clark told a business lunch on Monday.

    Local analysts said such talks will help China accumulate experience in carrying out free trade talks with other developed countries and promote China's economic and trade ties with Asian-Pacific countries and regions. Enditem

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