Friday 18 June 2021 4:13 pm

UK aims to sign free trade deal with New Zealand in August

The UK is aiming to strike a new free trade deal with New Zealand in August after the latest round of talks between the two countries concluded.

Fresh from the recent deal with Australia, international trade secretary Liz Truss met with her Antipodean counterpart Damien O’Connor yesterday.

In a joint statement, the two sides said: “The UK and New Zealand yesterday held constructive and productive discussions towards the conclusion of a high-quality and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement that will support sustainable and inclusive trade.

“Both countries are confident that the remaining issues will be resolved, with talks on track to deliver a fantastic agreement.

“Negotiating teams will now accelerate talks and spend the coming weeks finalising details with the aim of reaching agreement in principle in August.”

Trade between the two countries was worth £2.3bn in 2020. The negotiations could see the lifting of tariffs on goods like New Zealand wine and McVitie’s digestive biscuits.

It is also hoped that a deal with the island nature will help speed the UK’s admission to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, which it applied to join in January.

The Department of International Trade (DIT) said that Truss and O’Connor, who met for dinner on Wednesday, also discussed how the two nations could tackle climate change.

In a separate statement, Truss said: “We have intensified negotiations and moved closer to an agreement that works for both nations. I want to thank Damien for the progress we have made over the past few days.

“Both sides are committed to striking a modern, liberalising agreement that forges closer ties between two island democracies that believe in free and fair trade. I am pushing UK interests hard in areas like services, mobility and investment, and want a deal that cuts tariffs on our exports, makes it easier for our service providers to sell into New Zealand, and delivers for consumers here at home.

“A deal would be an important step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a £9trn free trade area of half a billion consumers, which would open new opportunities for our farmers, manufacturers and services firms to sell to some the largest and fastest-growing markets in the world.”