NZ and UK agree to lift pace of free trade talks

  • Hon Damien O'Connor

New Zealand and the United Kingdom have agreed to rapidly lift the tempo of talks, as the two countries enter a new phase in free trade negotiations, Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

“UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, and I spoke today about the progress we are making in our negotiations to put in place an ambitious, comprehensive FTA that will support sustainable and inclusive trade,” Damien O’Connor said.

“We agreed that good progress towards this objective was made at the fourth round of talks. We also committed to accelerating the process from here, with a view to working towards agreement in the coming months.

“Teams will now intensify talks, with chief negotiators meeting monthly and the next formal rounds of talks scheduled for early June and July.”

The agreement to accelerate the pace of negotiations sees New Zealand move closer to agreeing a deal with its sixth largest trading partner and long-standing friend. A free trade agreement with the UK will provide increased opportunities for New Zealanders to access the UK market and will contribute to New Zealand’s COVID-19 trade recovery strategy.

Good progress was made at Round Four of negotiations, which concluded last week with a number of chapters of the agreement either concluded or substantially advanced.

“I am also pleased that negotiators provisionally agreed the framework for the FTA this round, with chapters now under negotiation that put into action New Zealand’s Trade for All strategy.

“This includes outcomes that support our environmental sustainability and climate action agendas, and advance the interests of Māori, women entrepreneurs, and small business”

This will be New Zealand’s first FTA to include dedicated chapters on trade and gender and consumer protection, alongside proposals that are being discussed on environment, labour, cooperation on indigenous interests, SMEs, development, and anti-corruption.

“I also emphasised to Secretary Truss that we still have a significant amount of work to ensure the market access outcomes, particularly for agriculture, reflect the ambition we have jointly set for the FTA – an ambitious, comprehensive deal that removes tariffs,” Damien O’Connor said.

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