The British parliament and public is currently scrutinising the detail of the United Kingdom-European Union withdrawal agreement, ready for a pre-Christmas vote. It is still far from certain whether the answer will be ‘go ahead’ or ‘no deal’. Whatever happens, the scheduled date of 29 March 2019 for UK leaving the the EU – and for the start of its negotiations with third countries – is approaching fast. The New Zealand Government is calling for public submissions on a post-Brexit free trade agreement with the UK.
“The UK is one of New Zealand’s oldest friends, and a free trade agreement makes a lot of sense,” Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker says.
“Our shared history, similar legal structures and openness to trade mean a high quality, comprehensive and progressive free trade agreement (FTA) is a natural next step after Brexit.
“Both New Zealand and the UK have committed to launching negotiations as soon as the UK is in a position to do so.”
In line with the Government’s Trade for All agenda, New Zealand will seek an agreement that safeguards high standards and protections for labour and the environment, and also promotes gender equality and indigenous rights, among other things.
“We want to reduce costs and barriers for New Zealand businesses operating with the UK. Our exports to the UK are already worth over $1.5 billion annually, and there is an opportunity to grow the links between our economies even further,” says Parker.
“As with all new trade agreements New Zealand makes, an FTA with the UK will include protections for the Treaty of Waitangi and maintain the government’s right to pass laws in the public interest.
“The work and living rights of New Zealanders in the UK may also be part of future discussions, as we look to forge a closer economic relationship with the UK post-Brexit.”
New Zealand has exported sheepmeat to the UK since 1882 and it is still a valuable customer and valued trading partner for the red meat sector. At the year ending 30 September 2018, it was the sector’s second most important sheepmeat market worth over $488 million and was the most important for chilled New Zealand lamb , which accounted for just under half of the shipments.