Key Points:

New Zealand and Hong Kong are to resume free trade talks which were suspended in 2002.

Officials will meet in Hong Kong in March for preparatory discussions with the first full round of negotiations planned for late April or early May.

Trade Minister Tim Groser said he encouraged businesses with an interest in Hong Kong to provide feedback which would be taken into account as ministers determined the mandate for negotiations.

New Zealand and Hong Kong began closer economic partnership negotiations in 2001 but after five rounds of talks, the negotiations were suspended the following year.

However, when visiting New Zealand in 2007 the chief executive of Hong Kong, Donald Tsang, said he was optimistic a free trade agreement could be concluded.

Talks had been suspended in part because of concerns from some manufacturing sectors that it would provide a back door for duty-free access for Chinese goods into New Zealand. But now a free trade agreement with China itself has been concluded.

The remaining issues were minor, Tsang said, and as far as rules of origin were concerned the Hong Kong system was highly respected and able to differentiate Hong Kong products from those coming from other places, including mainland China.

Hong Kong's applied tariff rate is zero - an agreement would bind that.

It has nearly seven million people with a per capita GDP of around US$30,000 ($56,000), or 10 per cent higher than New Zealand's.