The New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is the first free trade agreement signed between China and a developed country. Since its official enforcement on October 1, 2008, Chinese enterprises have imported 247.14 billion yuan worth of goods from New Zealand that benefited from tariff concessions, with an average annual increase of 23.1% since 2009. A total of 28.39 billion yuan in customs duties were exempted, with an average annual growth rate of 31.5%. The costs of importing New Zealand high-quality food including beef, mutton, dairy products and fruit were reduced under the FTA.
In order to fully leverage the favorable policies towards Certificate of Origin (C/O), the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) has actively implemented reforms such as the “integration of two certificates” for foreign trade operators filing and enterprises of origin filing, self-service printing of C/O, and intelligent verification of C/O to allow the online application and processing of C/O for exported products. With the simplification of the export approval process and shorter time for enterprises to apply for the certificates, enterprises have gained more benefits.
With the C/O of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement issued by New Zealand, Comvita Food (China) Limited imported a batch of New Zealand signature manuka honey with a 15% tariff concession, which means zero duties, saving 432,000 yuan. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s administrator said that honey imports increased last year thanks to the tariff reduction policies. In 2020, the value of the company’s imports of New Zealand-origin goods at Shenzhen Port and the amount of tariff reductions both increased significantly year-on-year, exceeding 80%. From 2018 to 2020, Comvita has imported 260 million yuan worth of goods from New Zealand with a total tariff concessions of 41.149 million yuan.
In order to meet the needs of the domestic market and protect the development of domestic animal husbandry, the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement formulated the “Special Agricultural Safeguard Measures” at the beginning of its implementation, setting a trigger level for the import quantity of dairy products such as milk and cream from New Zealand each year. Agricultural products imported within the trigger level can enjoy the agreed tariff rate. Once the cumulative amount of imports in the given calendar year exceeds the trigger level, the later imported agricultural products will be subject to tariffs at the tariff rate of the most-favored-nation. Agricultural products in transit to China on the basis of a contract settled before the additional customs tariff is applied shall enjoy the agreed tariff rate after approval from the Customs. In 2019, GACC developed the “Management System for the Certificate on the Application of Tariff Rates to the Import of Agricultural Products in transit”, which automatically records the import quantity of agricultural products in transit, and reminds enterprises of the remaining quota for tariff concessions.
“By applying for the qualification of imported agricultural products in transit, imported products enjoy tariff concessions under the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement, reducing transaction costs and enhancing market competitiveness of the products.” Said Du Chengrong, executive general manager of C&D Logistics Group Co., Ltd. According to statistics, a total of 1.87 million tons of New Zealand agricultural products enjoyed import benefits through the application of the “Certificate on the Application of Tariff Rates to the Import of Agricultural Products in transit” in 2020.
While a large number of high-quality New Zealand products are imported with preferential tariffs, Chinese enterprises also leverage the preferential policies of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement to expand exports. Since the implementation of the Agreement, Chinese enterprises have applied for about 80,000 Certificates of Origin for exported goods, with a total value of 13.65 billion yuan, mainly for products such as furniture, bedding, plastics and related products, as well as clothing.
The official from the Customs Department of GACC stated that the official signing of the upgrading protocol of New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement has improved the quality and efficiency of the free trade between two countries. In terms of rules governing C/O and management, the provisions of the direct shipping clause have been modified, and an independent declaration system of the C/O of approved exporters has been introduced to better enable enterprises to enjoy tariff concessions. The customs of both China and New Zealand will further improve the electronic system of origin information and bring new impetus to the economic and trade development of the two countries. With the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in the future, bilateral economic and trade cooperation will be further enhanced.
(Source: CCPIT/ www.chinatradenews.com.cn)