Our role in negotiating and implementing free trade agreements

This page explains the Ministry for the Environment's role in negotiating and implementing free trade agreements.

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 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 implementing the environment agreements with each partner country.

Completed free trade agreements

New Zealand currently has free trade agreements with:

Current free trade negotiations

New Zealand is currently in free trade negotiations with:

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) [Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website] is under negotiation. RCEP is a plurilateral negotiation between 16 countries: the 10 ASEAN nations (Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam) plus Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, China, and India.

For more information on current trade negotiations see the Free Trade Agreements Index [Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website].

Countries' commitments under these agreements

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.

Implementing free trade agreements

The Ministry for the Environment is responsible for implementing the environment provisions in free trade agreements once they come into force. We implement these provisions 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 China, 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 science project with China, focusing on water quality in rural areas.
  • 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.

Other 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 tht New Zealand meets its obligations under the multilateral environment agreements it has ratified
  • 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 and various conventions on chemicals and waste.

Find out more

For information on New Zealand's cooperation with China see the Environmental cooperation with China web page.

For further information on environmental cooperation activities contact the Ministry for the Environment.