China and New Zealand on Tuesday signed a protocol on upgrading their 12-year-old free trade agreement (FTA)

China and New Zealand on Tuesday signed a protocol on upgrading their 12-year-old free trade agreement (FTA), which is expected to bring more benefits to the businesses and peoples of the two countries.

The FTA upgrade adds new chapters on e-commerce, government procurement, competition policy as well as environment and trade, in addition to improvements on rules of origin, customs procedures and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade and trade in services. On the basis of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, China will further expand its opening-up in sectors including aviation, education, finance, elderly care, and passenger transport to New Zealand to boost the trade in services. The upgraded FTA will see both countries open their markets for certain wood and paper products.

New Zealand will lower its threshold for reviewing Chinese investment, allowing it to receive the same review treatment as members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

It has also doubled the quota for Chinese Mandarin teachers and Chinese tour guides working in the country to 300 and 200, respectively.

The US economy contracted 3.5 percent in 2020 amid COVID-19 fallout, the largest annual decline of US gross domestic product (GDP) since 1946, according to data released by the US Commerce Department on Thursday.

The estimated drop in GDP for 2020 was the first such decline since a 2.5% fall in 2009. That was the deepest annual setback since the economy shrank 11.6% in 1946.

The data also showed that the US economy grew at an annual rate of 4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, slower than 33.4 percent in the previous quarter.

The economy fell into recession in February, a month before the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic.

The economy contracted at a post-Depression record 31.4% in the second quarter then rebounded to a 33.4% gain in the following three months.

Thursday’s report was the Commerce Department’s initial estimate of growth for the quarter.

“The increase in fourth quarter GDP reflected both the continued economic recovery from the sharp declines earlier in the year and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including new restrictions and closures that took effect in some areas of the United States,” the department said in a statement.

Despite a partial economic rebound in the second half of last year, the US economy shrank 3.5 percent for the whole year of 2020, compared with an increase of 2.2 percent in 2019, according to the department.

Post time: Apr-29-2021