Taiwan and New Zealand are making great progress in negotiations on a bilateral economic cooperation agreement, New Zealand envoy to Taiwan, Stephen Payton, said.
“We’re making very good progress and it’s going to be a good deal,” Payton, director of the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei, said in an interview.
Describing the agreement as an important development in bilateral ties, Payton said the Taiwan-New Zealand Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECA) will be “high-quality, comprehensive and a very good agreement for both sides.”
“When it’s concluded, people would be impressed,” he said, but declined to reveal the content of the negotiations until they have concluded and the agreement signed and made public.
According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the “high-quality” in Payton’s remark means that both sides will open more than 90 percent of their markets to each other, while “comprehensive” refers to the liberalization covering not only products, but also services and industrial cooperation.
In response to the Taiwanese government’s hope of signing the deal by the end of June, Payton said he would happy to see such positive results, but that it would mean that the pact would be the quickest one his country had ever forged.
Taiwan and New Zealand announced in October 2011 that they had agreed to conduct a joint study into the feasibility of an economic cooperation agreement, with negotiations starting in May last year.
When asked how much the deal would increase bilateral trade volume, Payton declined to give an estimate, saying only that “we can be hopeful [that] there will be some positive outcomes.”
“Trade agreements are not one-stop solutions to economic relationships,” Payton said, adding that there are lots of aspects of Taiwan-New Zealand relations that are not directly addressed by the agreement, such as venture capital issues.
Asked if the ECA would help Taiwan in its efforts to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bloc, Payton said he does not see a direct relationship between the two agreements, although he added: “I certainly see various ways in which it will help Taiwan prepare itself for the possibility of joining the TPP in the future.”
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