O’Connor must secure UK FTA before returning home

Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor must not return from a second trip to London without an agreement to do a free trade deal with the United Kingdom, National’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“News today that the Minister is slipping off to the UK is welcome if it means that after six rounds of negotiations both sides are ready to put pen to paper.

“We want to see an agreement with our sixth largest trading partner that is as good, if not better, than that which Australia has secured. We are lagging behind Australia, who secured an agreement in principle in June, despite the fact we started our negotiations at the same time as them.

“The Australia-UK agreement was the benchmark for what New Zealand should be aiming to achieve in terms of timeframes for tariff-free trade. Beef and sheep meat tariffs will be eliminated after 10 years and dairy after five years. Minister O’Connor must secure tariff-free timelines matching, or better than Australia.

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

“With national debt sitting at $114 billion New Zealand needs to be optimally positioned to trade our way out of that debt. Securing comprehensive and wide-ranging free trade deals is an important part of the solution.”