A trade deal with New Zealand is an “essential” part of helping the U.K. economy recover from the coronavirus slump, said U.K. Trade Secretary Liz Truss, as Britain launched formal talks with Wellington.
Truss told media that a deal will be a step toward membership of a free-trade agreement with a group of Asia-Pacific nations.
Britain is set to leave the EU’s customs union on December 31, leaving it free to strike trade agreements with countries outside the bloc. It is currently negotiating a trade deal with Brussels, while pursuing agreements around the world, including with the U.S. and Japan.
In June, the U.K. government announced its intention to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) — a free-trade agreement involving 11 Asia-Pacific countries including Canada, Australia, Japan, Vietnam and New Zealand.
“Alongside our negotiations with Australia and Japan [a New Zealand deal] is a step towards membership of CPTPP — a high standards and rules-based trade area encompassing some of the world’s most dynamic economies,” Truss said.
She added that the deal is “essential in helping the U.K. overcome the economic challenge posed by coronavirus,” explaining that it will help Britain’s small businesses and boost exports by up to £100 million and workers’ wages by £200 million.
“Although it’s more than 11,000 miles away, we couldn’t be much closer in values and friendship,” Truss enthused. “We have a proud shared history, and also a common commitment to advance rules-based free trade, fight protectionism and defend international rules.”
Truss’s counterpart in New Zealand, David Parker, wrote in an op-ed in the Times last week that from their perspective, the trade relationship is “out of step with the rest of our relationship.”
“This situation doesn’t align with the vision either of us have for our future relationship,” he said, highlighting pharmaceuticals, machinery and transport equipment, beverages and vehicles as goods New Zealand wants from the U.K.
Trade between the U.K. and New Zealand is currently worth £2.9 billion, according to the Department for International Trade.
Photo Credit : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Official_portrait_of_Elizabeth_Truss_crop_2.jpg