NZ-China Free trade Agreement (FTA)
The New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a treaty between New Zealand and China that liberalises and facilitates trade in goods and services, improves the business environment and promotes cooperation between the two countries in a broad range of economic areas.
It was signed on 7 April 2008 and entered into force on 1 October 2008.
For more information about the FTA, visit www.ChinaFTA.govt.nz
For information about temporary entry provisions in the Agreement, you can also visit the Immigration New Zealand's website.
Alongside the FTA, New Zealand and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Labour Cooperation (MoU). For more information on the MoU, visit: www.ChinaFTA.govt.nz
The NZ-China FTA aims to make it easier for New Zealand and Chinese nationals to enter each other’s country for a temporary stay related to the supply of services.
Both countries have made a commitment to, within 10 working days of a completed temporary entry or temporary employment entry visa application being received, to either decide the application or to advise when a decision will be made.
For New Zealand business people visiting China
China has agreed to fast processing of visa applications by New Zealanders visiting China for business purposes, including services suppliers, investors and goods sellers, and to greater transparency in processing the applications. This will ensure that the procedures that New Zealand business people need to follow in order to gain entry to do business in China do not become stricter – and provides New Zealand with a good basis on which to seek to work to improve these conditions over time. The NZ-China FTA goes further in this respect than any of New Zealand’s other FTAs.
In sectors where it has made services commitments, China has also agreed to extend the maximum stay of New Zealand business visitors to six months, compared to the previous 90 days.
Intra-corporate transferees employed as managers, executives or specialists will be granted a work permit for the length of their contract or for an initial stay of three years in China, whichever is shorter.
For Chinese business people visiting New Zealand
In each of the service sectors for which New Zealand has made modes 1-3 service commitments (education, environmental, computer, photographic, duplicating and construction services), Chinese executives or managers who have been employed by their employer for at least 12 months prior to their proposed transfer to New Zealand may enter for an initial stay of up to three years, which may be extended for a further three years if the need for the executive or manager still exists.
New Zealand has also made two new Visa Facilitation commitments
- A commitment to provide a decision within 10 working days on certain student visa applications where the applicant has an offer of place in a degree-level course from an accredited New Zealand tertiary institution that has been enrolling Chinese students for at least two years, and the student meets health and character requirements; and
- A commitment to create a new group transit visa for Chinese nationals.
Temporary employment entry for skilled workers
The FTA includes commitments for skilled workers from China to enter New Zealand for temporary employment, without labour market testing (but subject to specified qualifications and work experience requirements, registration if required, and the requirement for a bona fide job offer), if they work in one of the following occupations:
- Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners (maximum of 200 at any one time) (including traditional Chinese medicine nurses)
- Chinese chefs (maximum of 200 at any one time)
- Mandarin teachers' aides (maximum of 150 at any one time)
- “Wushu” martial arts (including tai chi) coaches (maximum of 150 at any one time)
- Chinese tour guides (maximum of 100 at any one time).
In addition, a maximum of 1000 skilled Chinese workers at any one time may be granted temporary employment for up to three years, in specified occupations where New Zealand has a skills shortage. Entry will be limited to no more than 100 workers in each occupation at any one time. Although involving only a limited number of Chinese workers, these commitments may help to ease labour shortages in the context of New Zealand’s current tight employment market. Should the labour market in New Zealand loosen in the future, the requirement that such workers hold a bona fide job offer, and meet specified qualifications, work experience and registration requirements, will protect conditions for New Zealanders.
The list of occupations upon entry into force of the FTA is as follows (all occupations have attached qualification and experience requirements): Computer Application Engineer, Senior Test Analyst, Structural Engineer, Veterinarian, Fitter and Turner, Registered Nurse, Fitter Welder, University or Higher Education Lecturer, Early Childhood Education Teacher, Design Engineer - Electronics / Product Engineer, Auditor, Electronics Technician, Medical Diagnostic Radiographer / Medical Radiation Therapist / Nuclear Medicine Technologist, Boatbuilder, Film Animator, Electrician, Plumber, Automotive Electrician, Diesel Mechanic, Motor Mechanic.
Working Holiday Scheme
Alongside the FTA, New Zealand has established a working holiday scheme with China. The scheme provides for a maximum of 1000 Chinese nationals per year to enter New Zealand for one year. The scheme will allow young, well-educated Chinese to engage in incidental employment in New Zealand and may assist in meeting labour shortages in areas such as the hospitality and horticulture and viticulture industries.
Applicants will be required to have the equivalent of a seventh form diploma, have a minimum of NZ$4200 in available funds, be able to speak functional English, and undergo TB screening. As with other Working Holiday Schemes, successful applicants will be issued with open work visas of one year’s duration, and will not be able to work for any single employer for more than three months.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What is the NZ-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA)?
The NZ-China FTA is a treaty between New Zealand and China that liberalises and facilitates trade in goods and services, improves the business environment and promotes cooperation between the two countries in a broad range of economic areas. For more information and the full text of the Agreement, see www.ChinaFTA.govt.nz
When does it come into effect?
The FTA to entered into force on 1 October 2008.
Why does the FTA include temporary entry immigration provisions?
The facilitation of temporary entry between countries is an increasing feature of free trade discussions. The easy movement of business people assists in the development of commerce in both goods and services. Temporary entry for skilled workers offers Chinese people opportunities to further their experience and work under New Zealand conditions and salaries, and for New Zealand employers to fill jobs where there are significant skill shortages.
What will the changes be to temporary entry rules?
The FTA will make it easier for business people from New Zealand and China to visit each other’s country for a short time to do business. It confirms existing policies that enable specialist business people from China to work in New Zealand temporarily as intra-corporate transferees. It also provides special arrangements for capped numbers of people from China to work temporarily in New Zealand if they have particular skills and a job offer, and adds China to the many countries from which New Zealand welcomes young people on working holidays.
What controls will there be on the new work categories?
The new policies are for limited numbers of people, and specifically for those who have particular traditional skills or where there are significant shortages of skilled New Zealanders. Everyone coming to work temporarily in New Zealand to fill job vacancies (except New Zealanders and Australians) must meet the same general conditions. These include checks on qualifications and experience, health and character, and that job offers are genuine, including having New Zealand-standard terms and conditions.
How do the numbers compare with other countries and other policies?
At the beginning of July 2007, there were more than 115,000 people in New Zealand on work permits. This included more than 30,000 working holiday-makers, more than 43,000 who were in skill shortage jobs (or who were the partners of those people) and almost 4,000 graduates with New Zealand degrees on open work permits.
The NZ-China FTA provides for up to 1800 skilled people from China to work temporarily in New Zealand at any one time under the new policies, provided they meet the requirements and have a job offer.
More than 67,000 people, from 150 nationalities, were granted a permit to study in New Zealand last year. This included more than 20,000 Chinese citizens, 11,000 Korean citizens, almost 4,000 Japanese students, just over 3,000 from India and almost 3,000 from the USA. Fee-paying students from around the world are encouraged to study in New Zealand. There is no cap on numbers.
As noted above, more than 30,000 young people (18-30 years old) from 26 countries came to New Zealand on working holidays last year. This included more than 11,000 United Kingdom citizens, almost 4,500 young Germans, 1,000 Czech citizens and 1,600 young Americans.
The NZ-China FTA provides for up to 1000 young people from China to be granted a working holiday visa each year. Like the NZ-United States working holiday scheme, this is not a reciprocal arrangement; and like the NZ-Thailand working holiday scheme, applicants will need to show they speak some English and have met an education standard. All working holiday schemes require that employment is incidental rather than a primary reason for visiting New Zealand and require applicants to hold funds so they can support themselves without working.
Will people from China who come to work temporarily in New Zealand have the same rights as New Zealand employees?
Yes. Everyone who works in New Zealand comes under the same labour laws, including holiday provisions and the ability to join a union. New Zealand and China have also agreed to cooperate on the promotion of sound labour policies and practices, including the promotion and protection of the employment rights and obligations of migrant workers.
When will people from China be able to lodge applications under the new categories?
Applications under the new categories can be lodged now