Trade Minister David Parker’s announcement this evening of a successful upgrade of the NZ-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has been welcomed by the seafood industry.

Seafood New Zealand chief executive, Tim Pankhurst, said China was an important market for New Zealand seafood.

“While the volume of seafood going out of New Zealand and into China has decreased, the value of our exports keeps climbing.

“In 2008, when the China FTA was signed, 80,182 tonnes were going into China and the value of that was $163.3 million. In 2018, the volume has dropped to 66,836 tonnes but it is worth $596.6 million. That represents a 17 percent decrease in volume and a 73 percent increase in value.”

Pankhurst said he would like to thank the Minister and his trade officials for achieving the refresh and said the industry was particularly grateful for promised efficiencies in customs clearance at the China border for fresh seafood.

“Any improvements in the customs border clearance processes are welcome, especially as the value of chilled and live seafood to China was less than 0.1 percent in 2008 and is now around 51 percent of the total value of trade to China. That we have been promised a maximum six-hour turnaround is significant,” said Pankhurst.

The top species being exported to China are rock lobster ($308.4 million), hoki ($60.2 million), and squid ($40 million).

The total value of New Zealand global seafood exports annually was $1.810 billion in 2018.