China and New Zealand will move toward signing a free trade agreement after the two nations successfully concluded a feasibility study on such an accord, a senior Chinese official said.
The comments came after a meeting on Friday between Chinese Prime Minister Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark on the eve of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit being held in the Chilean capital this weekend.
"Both leaders were satisfied and gratified by the smooth ending and positive conclusion of the feasibility study conducted by both sides," Kong Quan, the chief spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said during a press conference.
"They agreed that relevant agencies would very soon start the negotiations on the signing of the free trade agreement between China and New Zealand," he said.
Quan called the development "good news."
The two disproportionately sized countries have agreed on a formal trade and economic cooperation framework, to be signed in June.
Talks for the framework deal began shortly after Hu visited New Zealand last October.