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International Trade and Environment

New Zealand’s environment is affected not only by what we do within our borders but increasingly by what other countries do within and beyond their borders. New Zealand’s aim, both domestically and internationally, is to develop sound trade and environment policies that mutually support the goal of sustainable development.

Environment provisions in the context of Free Trade Agreements are a part of New Zealand’s commitment to sustainable development and also provide a platform for international cooperation between trading partner countries. Much of the work under these agreements focuses on improving knowledge, strengthening environmental policies, and building capacity and capability to implement such measures.

Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Agreements

Bilateral and regional free trade agreements play an important role in international trade. New Zealand’s free trade agreements seek to maintain high standards for environmental protection, support and promote sustainable development and build capacity to more effectively address environmental issues.

Trade and Environment Framework

The 2001 Framework for Integrating Environment Standards and Trade Agreements provides guidance for the negotiation of environmental issues in the context of New Zealand’s overall free trade negotiations.

Further information is provided below:

MfE’s role in negotiating free trade agreements

New Zealand has sought to promote its trading interests, particularly in the Asia–Pacific region, by negotiating free trade agreements. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is the lead agency responsible for negotiating free trade agreements with other countries.

The Ministry for the Environment’s role is to support the negotiation of environment provisions associated with those agreements and to encourage our bilateral partners to improve market access for environmental goods and services.

New Zealand has recently concluded free trade agreements with:

New Zealand is currently in free trade negotiations with:

For more information on current trade negotiations visit the following Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade webpage:

What’s in the Environment Agreements?

New Zealand seeks environmental provisions that are of formal treaty status negotiated and signed within the framework of each free trade agreement. The Ministry for the Environment is the lead agency in New Zealand responsible for the implementation of the Environment Agreements with each partner country.

New Zealand currently has six Environment Agreements or Arrangements with the following countries:

  • Thailand: linked to the New Zealand Thailand Closer Economic Partnership
  • Chile, Singapore and Brunei: linked to the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership
  • China: linked to the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement.
  • The Philippines: linked to the ASEAN, Australia and NZ Free Trade Agreement
  • Malaysia: linked to the New Zealand - Malaysia Free Trade Agreement
  • Hong Kong, China: linked to the New Zealand-Hong Kong, China Closer Economic Partnership Agreement

Under these agreements, each country undertakes to:

  • affirm their commitment to enforce environmental laws and regulations, and, respect each Party’s sovereign rights to set their own environmental policies and standards
  • ensure that their environmental laws, regulations, policies and practices are consistent with international environmental obligations
  • not seek to gain a trade or investment advantage by weakening or derogating from their environmental laws and regulations
  • not use their environment laws, regulations, policies and practices for trade protectionist purposes
  • promote public awareness of their environmental laws, regulations, policies and practices domestically.

To view the text of the Environment Agreements see:

Implementing the Environment Agreements

The Ministry for the Environment is responsible for implementing the environment agreements once they come into force. We implement the environment agreements in a practical and meaningful way by working with our partner countries to meet our respective obligations and to undertake cooperative activities that address priorities of mutual interest.

The Ministry has undertaken a range of cooperation projects with Thailand, Singapore, Brunei and Chile including projects involving other government departments, Crown Research Institutes, Universities, local authorities and private sector organisations.

Examples of activities completed include:

  • A collaborative vehicle emissions and transport management study visit between Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand.
  • Water allocation study visit by Thai Officials to New Zealand.
  • New Zealand hosted study tour for Chilean officials on developing geothermal resources for renewable energy development in Chile.

Information on New Zealand's cooperation with China can be found on our Environmental Cooperation with China Page.

Partnerships between New Zealand and Chile in the environmental sector - Joint Statement between the Ministers for the Environment of the Republic of Chile and New Zealand (26 September 2011).

Further information about environmental cooperation activities is available by contacting the Ministry for the Environment.

International Engagement

At the Ministry for the Environment we also work within international environmental forums to:

  • promote action on important international environmental issues;
  • ensure New Zealand's interests are protected and advanced in the work of international organisations and processes such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development;
  • ensure that New Zealand meets its obligations under MEAs it has ratified; and
  • provide information to meet New Zealand’s international reporting obligations under multilateral environment agreements it has ratified such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants and  the Rotterdam Convention.  .


For information on New Zealand’s International Trade and Environment agreements or activities, please contact

Last updated: 28 June 2013