The challenge is to actually harvest the benefits. And it is a big challenge.
"More than half of the world, literally, could soon be New Zealand's oyster."
David Green, Managing Director, Institutional ANZ New Zealand
In 2008, we were the first OECD country to sign a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with China. That country has since grown into New Zealand's largest trading partner, a key market for exports such as dairy, forestry, meat, seafood and wool and a major source of migrants, students and tourists to New Zealand.
Similar success stories are playing out with other partners across the region. In the 32 years since New Zealand signed the Closer Economic Relations agreement with Australia, it has entered trade deals with key markets including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The latest deal, signed last week with South Korea, holds particular promise for New Zealand farmers – including the proposed elimination of an 89 per cent tariff on butter, 45 per cent on kiwifruit, 40 per cent on beef and 22.5 per cent on sheep meat. Tariffs on infant formula and cheese will also be eliminated.
Including the new Korean deal, New Zealand's bilateral agreements now cover 42 per cent of global GDP, with negotiations under way for access to a further 30 per cent.
Our FTA partners have a combined population of over 1.5 billion, rising to 3.7 billion - over half the world's population - if further negotiations are successful. More than half of the world, literally, could soon be New Zealand's oyster.