Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern signs upgrade to free trade deal with China

Trade with New Zealand's biggest trading partner China is about to get even bigger.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has finally signed off a beefed-up upgrade to our free trade deal - giving New Zealand further preferential access to China.

Ardern announced the upgrade at the East Asia Summit, calling it a major win.

"It really means that New Zealand has the best access really in terms of anyone in terms of our agreements; by 2024 we'll have the best access for dairy," Ardern said. 

"This ensures our upgraded free trade agreement will remain the best China has with any country."

Ardern said the benefits of the beefed-up agreement will flow. It means there's an upgrade in the way environmental issues are dealt with by the two countries, she said.

She said the upgrade would also address access issues, adding "we've got some delays at the border".

According to a joint media statement released on Monday, the upgraded agreement also makes improvements to rules of origin, operational procedures, and "technical barriers" to trade.

"The agreement also includes new commitments on services and goods market access and outcomes on movement on natural persons and investment.

"These results reflect the desire of both countries to ensure that the New Zealand-China FTA remains ambitious, modern and high quality."