China, New Zealand sign free trade agreement

BEIJING: New Zealand signed a free-trade agreement with China on Monday, a Chinese foreign ministry official said, making it the first developed economy to enter such a pact with the Asian giant.

The agreement, signed on the first full day of a China visit by New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, came after nearly four years of negotiations between the two sides.

“This is an historic day for China-New Zealand relations,” Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said ahead of the signing ceremony.

“The signing and implementation of the China-New Zealand free trade agreement will bring our friendly relationship even closer and deliver tangible benefits to both our countries.”

A foreign ministry official told foreign media the agreement was signed shortly after midday.