New Zealand-UK free trade talks gearing up for fifth round
British High Commissioner to New Zealand Laura Clarke remains committed to a free trade deal as part of the UK’s post-Brexit strategy. Video / Mark Mitchell
Talks for a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the UK are expected to accelerate this week and UK High Commissioner Laura Clarke said a new survey shows New Zealand traders are positive about to its outlook.
“What I think is interesting is that it goes a bit against the narrative you sometimes hear. That is, Brexit is making everything a lot harder or the UK is turning in on itself.” , she told the Herald.
“And, of course, it’s the opposite because we are in the world and engaged and enjoying the new independence that we have thanks to Brexit.”
The fifth round of virtual talks is expected to begin tomorrow under the leadership of Brad Burgess, New Zealand Ambassador to Ireland.
A sixth round is scheduled for July.
Trade Minister Damien O’Connor is preparing to leave for London later in the week to meet with his counterpart, Liz Truss, before heading to Brussels to crack the whip on the EU-NZ FTA talks.
The survey shows that 35% of New Zealand importers and exporters believed it would be easier for New Zealand businesses to access opportunities in the UK after Brexit.
And it showed that nearly two-thirds of New Zealand importers and exporters believe an FTA will make it easier for New Zealand businesses to access opportunities in the UK.
“It’s always very nice to check out what the feeling is because of course Brexit has been a long transition,” Clarke said.
“It has been a pretty difficult time in many ways, a lot of uncertainty and I know that certainly for many of our international partners it has been difficult as we have worked out what our future arrangements will be.
“We’ve been through this period of relative difficulty and uncertainty and we’re in ‘what next’ and carving out the UK’s role in the world both in terms of trade and foreign policy.”
Britain officially left the European Union on December 31, 2019, and concluding bilateral trade deals has been a priority for the British government.
It aims for 80% of its world trade to be covered by free trade agreements. Two-way trade between New Zealand and the UK was around $ 6 billion in 2019.
The survey of 605 New Zealand companies that import or export was conducted by Colmar Brunton and commissioned by the British High Commission.
During the talks, the UK put forward what it sees as a “commercially significant” offer on market access – elimination of tariffs and quotes – and expects New Zealand to make moves. progress on a range of services for the fifth cycle, in particular in this provision of services.
O’Connor has made it clear in previous press statements that the market access offer is not what New Zealand considers acceptable.
“We expect a complete elimination of tariffs, including on agricultural products, over commercially significant time frames,” O’Connor said.
“Right now that’s not what we have on the table, so we have some work to do.”
Progress on the deal with New Zealand is complicated by Australia’s parallel FTA talks, which are still advanced despite the start of both rounds of talks at the same time, in June 2020.
The BBC reported that Australia had been offered tariff elimination over a 15-year period.
The UK and Australia have set a deadline for a tentative deal next weekend when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be Boris Johnson’s special guest at the G7 meeting in Cornwall.
While it’s hard to imagine there will be a big difference in the quality of the deals, Clarke says there is no suggestion that New Zealand will simply follow Australia.
“Absolutely not. Australia and New Zealand are two very different economies and they are two very different negotiations and I think we try to do different things in each negotiation and it is best to look at each individually and on its own terms. own merits. “
She said the UK wanted to make rapid progress.
“We’re also clear that we don’t want to go so fast that we don’t do all of these things that we set out to do what is, of course, a very good deal in terms of goods but also a good one. business in terms of in terms of what we do on services, things like digital trade and also the most innovative areas around indigenous trade, women in trade, climate and sustainability provisions as well as to really show how you can use trade to advance other goods. ”
The other deal that could affect bilateral agreements with the UK is its candidacy for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which requires the agreement of the original 11 members, including the New -Zeeland.
This is the first time in a long time that New Zealand, with a relatively liberalized economy, has exercised significant influence in trade negotiations.
A ministerial meeting this week agreed to kick off the UK’s accession process by setting up a working group to consider how the accession will unfold.
O’Connor, in his statement welcoming the move, also said that any new member must meet “the highest quality access commitments, including on goods, services and temporary entry for men. business”.
Clarke doesn’t think the CPTPP process will complicate the FTA talks at all and says it will pave the way for him.
She says CPTPP membership was in part a matter of economic opportunity – it currently accounted for 13 percent of global GDP and would be 16 percent with the UK.
But it was also about the UK’s “Indo-Pacific tilt” and the decision to engage and invest much more in the region.
“This therefore means asking to join the CPTPP, it means our request for dialogue status with ASEAN, it means the doubling of our diplomatic presence in the South Pacific where we have opened three new high commissions and of course the deployment of our carrier strike group. [the Aircraft Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is heading to the South China Seas] – those ships arriving in the region. “
• About 25 percent of New Zealand exporters export to the UK.
• About 23 percent of New Zealand importers import from the UK.
• 35 percent of New Zealand importers and exporters think it will be easier for New Zealand businesses to access opportunities in the UK after Brexit than before Brexit, 31 percent say no difference and 21 percent more difficult.
• 63 percent of New Zealand importers and exporters believe an FTA will make it easier for New Zealand businesses to access opportunities in the UK, 23 percent no difference and 6 percent more difficult.
• Colmar Brunton said the top three reasons respondents thought the UK would be a more attractive business destination after Brexit were less restrictive rules than those applied while in the EU; have only one country to deal with; and the UK must look beyond Europe.
• Colmar Brunton interviewed 605 decision makers from New Zealand companies with six or more employees that import or export goods and / or services. He used online interviews with respondents from the Colmar Brunton Business Research Panel and telephone interviews with respondents from a business database. Interviews were conducted from March 3 to 23. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.98 percent.