Details of China trade agreement signing revealed

Our economy may never be the same after next week.

It's been confirmed today that Prime Minister Helen Clark will lead a delegation of no less than 150 to Beijing for the signing of New Zealand's ground-breaking Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China on April 7.

Trade Minister Phil Goff and Education and Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter will be part of the delegation that includes business and local government representatives.

The signing of the FTA by Helen Clark and her counterpart China's Premier Wen Jiabao will take place at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

"This is a significant event for both New Zealand and China. As is well known, New Zealand will be the first developed country to sign a comprehensive FTA with China," the PM said.

She said it was New Zealand's largest bilateral trade agreement since the Closer Economic Relations deal was signed with Australia in 1983.

She said the agreement was the result of three years of negotiations and would give New Zealand exporters increased access to the world's fastest growing economy.

The details of the agreement would be released publicly after the signing ceremony.

Legislation would then be tabled in Parliament enabling the FTA to be ratified.

One MP who will not be at the signing ceremony is United Future leader Peter Dunne.

Mr Dunne said the Government offered him a place on the trip but he turned it down as a protest over China's treatment of the Tibetan people.

He added that he believed the FTA was in the best long-term interests of New Zealand.

- NZPA

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