National pleased with UK agreement in principle

National is pleased with news the Government has reached an in-principle agreement on a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom, Trade and Export Growth spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“The last National Government began discussions with the UK on an ambitious and comprehensive FTA.  We have supported this Government’s efforts to conclude these negotiations as a priority.

“We want to see New Zealand do well in the world and trade is our best opportunity to do that.

“An immediate elimination of 97 per cent of tariffs on our exports is unprecedented.

“The National Party congratulates Trade Minister Damien O’Connor, his predecessors, and the many officials and industry participants who have worked so hard to bring this agreement to a conclusion.

“The UK is a very important market for New Zealand exporters. It is our seventh-largest goods export destination with two-way trade worth nearly $6 billion. We are glad to see significant improvements for export conditions for the red meat, dairy, wine, honey, seafood and horticultural sectors in particular.

“With our national debt sitting at $120 billion – and predicted to climb to $185 billion – our exporters will play a crucial role in allowing us to trade our way out of that debt. Securing high quality and comprehensive free trade deals is an important part of the solution.

“The Australia-UK agreement was the benchmark for what New Zealand should have been aiming to achieve in terms of timeframes for tariff-free trade.

“It’s pleasing to see the reductions in dairy tariffs occur in the same timeframe, but I’m a little disappointed for our red meat farmers that tariff elimination will take longer than it will for their Australian counterparts. While it appears our quotas of sheep meat will be greater, beef will be less. In trade deals, though, there is always some give and take. 

“National encourages the Government to support the UK in joining the CPTPP agreement in due course.  From New Zealand’s perspective, progressing the UK’s CPTPP membership was always contingent on landing a high quality FTA with the UK first.  We are very pleased to welcome the next step in our evolving economic relationship with the UK.”