New Zealand industries including clothing and footwear manufacturers will have up to until 2016 to adjust to increased competition from Hong Kong imports under the terms of the latest trade deal signed last night by Trade Minister Tim Groser.

The New Zealand-Hong Kong, China Closer Economic Partnership complements New Zealand's existing free-trade deal with China, Mr Groser said, "and, given Hong Kong's position as a regional trading and investment hub, supports New Zealand business engagement with the wider region".

Although Hong Kong already offers duty-free imports for all countries, the agreement effectively locks in that status for New Zealand companies, who exported goods worth $764 million to the Special Administrative Area in the year to March last year.

The benefits are immediately more tangible for Hong Kong firms, who exported goods worth $203 million to New Zealand in the same period, 47 per cent of which incurred tariffs.

Although the deal will improve access to the Zealand market, in line with 2008's China Free Trade Agreement, that access is staged.

By 2012, 85.6 per cent of current imports must be tariff-free, including whiteware, steel, plastics, furniture and jewellery.

By 2016, all tariffs, including those on clothing and footwear, will be removed.