WELLINGTON， Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand exports to South Korea have grown strongly since the two countries implemented a bilateral free trade agreement in December last year， Trade Minister Todd McClay said Tuesday.
In the first nine months since entry into force of the New Zealand-Korea Free Trade Agreement， food and beverage exports to South Korea rose 16 percent to 449 million NZ dollars (317.17 million U.S. dollars) compared to the same period a year earlier， McClay said in a statement ahead of the first anniversary of the agreement.
"Those products where tariffs have been eliminated immediately have fared extremely well，" said McClay.
Exports of New Zealand cherries to Korea， for example， which previously had a tariff of 24 percent， have more than doubled (221 percent) to 4.3 million NZ dollars (3.04 million U.S. dollars) between January and the end of September while New Zealand wine exports rose 28 percent to 1.9 million NZ dollars (1.34 million U.S. dollars) following the removal of a 15 percent tariff.
Butter exports were up 150 percent to 12 million NZ dollars (8.48 million U.S. dollars) and cheese exports were up 13 percent to 58 million NZ dollars (40.99 million U.S. dollars).
"There has also been significant improvement in export items where tariffs will be removed over time，" said McClay.
The value of New Zealand's substantial kiwifruit exports to Korea have grown 18 percent so far this year to reach 65 million NZ dollars (45.94 million U.S. dollars). Avocados are up 39 percent， meat extracts for food preparations up 62 percent， and deer velvet up 81 percent， he said.
Many exporters can look forward to further improvements to their products' competitiveness in the Korean market when the third round of tariff cuts under the FTA (free trade agreement) takes place on Jan. 1， 2017， the minister said.
In the year ending September， South Korea was New Zealand's sixth largest goods export market worth 1.5 billion NZ dollars (1.06 million U.S. dollars).