It is going to be much easier for Chinese people to visit and do business in New Zealand with a series of deals and initiatives announced by both countries.

The multiple entry visa for Chinese visitors to New Zealand will be extended from three years to five years from 08 May and Chinese passport holders can now use SmartGates at New Zealand airports, meaning that the arrival process will be quicker.

On top of this Chinese visa applicants will be able to pay online and eVisas have already been implemented for Chinese nationals applying for visitor, student and work visas. In addition, Chinese visa applicants can also apply online using a Chinese version of the RealMe logon service.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said that as China is New Zealand’s second largest market it is important that the country is an attractive place to visit. He pointed out that in 2016 Chinese visitors spent $1.67 billion and by 2022 this number is projected to increase to $5.3 billion.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and China Premier Li Keqiang have signed a series of co-operation deals spanning trade, customs, travel and climate change and confirmed commencement of official talks on an upgrade to the nine year old free trade agreement between the two countries.

Official talks to upgrade the existing FTA between the nations will start on 25 April with a goal of building on the deal that’s seen two-way trade triple to $23 billion since it came into force in 2008.

‘The agreement to commence negotiations also confirms the commitment of both countries to open trade and economic growth. Trade openness and strong ties in the region are critical to New Zealand’s economic growth, prosperity, and job creation,’ said English.

Some 21 other agreements have also been signed, including a new air services agreement to increase the number of flights between the countries, and the adoption of a climate change action plan.

The New Zealand Government has also launched a refreshed trade strategy to 2030, with the Government set to inject $91.3 million over the next four years to boost the ability to negotiate new free trade deals, get more out of existing ones, and break down non-tariff barriers that have become increasingly popular as a form of protectionism.

The climate change and environmental initiatives seek to increase cooperation between the nations to meet their international obligations as China starts rolling out its own emissions trading scheme, promote sustainable fishing in the Pacific and to create a framework for the nations to coordinate their regional aid and development efforts.

The air services agreement will immediately lift the weekly flight cap to 59 from 49, with a further 11 flights pending talks later in the year. The two countries have declared 2019 as an official year of China-New Zealand tourism.

Other agreements signed include the renewal of an existing education programme, a New Zealand-China mayoral forum to be held in Wellington in December this year, a new plan to cooperate on science and technology, a joint blue skies science health research collaboration, and a renewal of an arrangement on intellectual property cooperation.