WELLINGTON, N.Z. — The latest free-trade agreement (F.T.A) with Hong Kong is being applauded by Meat & Wool New Zealand (M&W N.Z.) and the Meat Industry Association (M.I.A.) for completing another important strand in the network of bilateral F.T.A.s in the growing Asian region.

Despite its relatively small population, Hong Kong has long been a significant market for the New Zealand meat industry, thanks to its large and sophisticated business sector, substantial inward tourism and high per capita income, said M&W N.Z. chairman Mike Petersen.

"Exports have been above NZ$80 million ($60 million) annually over the last five years, and have included a wide range of red meat, wool and related products," Mr. Petersen added.

"Hong Kong’s open-trading status has meant that our meat exports have not faced tariffs, as this market is a free port, and there are currently no applied tariffs on any agricultural products," said Bill Falconer, M.I.A. chairman.

Mr. Petersen agreed, however, that the real benefit of this agreement for New Zealand sheep and beef farmers and the wider industry is it guarantees the security of excellent access to this market.

The new F.T.A. cements New Zealand’s favored-trading relationship with one of the most strategically located, successful and dynamic economies in the Asia/Pacific region, Mr. Petersen concluded.