Assurances have been gained from the United Kingdom that New Zealand’s trade interests will not be compromised by the UK’s ‘Brexit’ from the European Union (EU).
New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay has been over in the UK establishing a trade policy dialogue with his counterpart, the British Secretary of State for International Trade Dr Liam Fox.
“For New Zealand, this is about being ready to cement our formal trading relationship with our fifth largest trading partner, once the UK is in a position to negotiate independently of the European Union,” says McClay.
He reported that he had discussed the importance of remaining closely engaged, particularly as New Zealand advances its priority of a free trade agreement with the EU. He also thanked the Secretary of State for assurances that New Zealand’s trade interests will not be compromised by Brexit.
“The trade policy dialogue with the UK will also be an important forum for engaging across a range of shared trade policy issues, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as it develops its approach to trade policy.
Both Fox and McClay commended the value of the engagement, both to underpin the two countries’ strong economic relationship, but also given New Zealand’s recognised perspective in international trade policy.
The bilateral trade policy dialogue will be convened at senior officials’ level and cover market access and trade policy issues of mutual interest, including WTO processes and current and prospective negotiations. It complements the existing annual UK-New Zealand Strategic Dialogue on foreign policy, which allows the UK and New Zealand to share expertise on foreign policy matters.
In a joint statement, McClay noted that New Zealand had already sent officials to the UK to talk about how this country has set up its systems in Government to pursue a strong and open trade policy.
“This dialogue would take that further,” he said.
Liam Fox said: “In leaving the EU, we have the opportunity to drive even greater openness and put Britain at the forefront of global trade. This new Trade Policy Dialogue reflects a strong political commitment from New Zealand and the UK to take the lead in pushing for greater global trade liberalisation and reform and I look forward to working closely with them.”
The first meeting will take place by early 2017, with subsequent talks to be held roughly every six months.
McClay was also scheduled to talk with EU trade commissioner Malmström and a number of other WTO trade ministers in Norway later in the week.