22 Dec 2014

Free trade deal with Korea closer

6:35 pm on 22 December 2014

A free trade deal between New Zealand and Korea has taken another step with the chief negotiators from both countries signing legal documents.

Korea FTA

New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key and South Korean president, Park Guen-hye, announce the successful conclusion of free trade talks. Photo: RNZ / Patrick O'Meara

Trade Minister Tim Groser said the next step was translation of that text into Korean, which would be completed early next year.

Following that, the trade agreement would be signed.

Korea was New Zealand's sixth largest export market, with two-way trade totalling $4 billion a year.

Under the free trade deal, tariffs would be eliminated on nearly half of the goods exported to Korea, saving $65 million in duties in the first year alone.

Exporters paid $229 million in tariffs each year to Korea, including 89 percent on butter, 45 percent on kiwifruit and 40 percent on beef.

Trade analysts said South Korea had already signed free-trade deals with many of New Zealand's rivals, and the agreement meant exporters would not be disadvantaged by paying higher tariffs than their competitors.

Prime Minister John Key announced the agreement at the G20 Summit in Brisbane in November.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs