The Government should be feeling the pressure to lock in a Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom after Australia announced their deal today, National’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson Todd Muller says.
“Australia and New Zealand started negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK at the same time. Australia seemed to want it more, acting with urgency and prioritising closing the deal. As a result they’ve come out on top.
“In contrast, our Government has been too slow to act. Trade Minister Damien O’Connor is only now heading to the UK to begin face-to-face negotiations. The Australian Trade Minister went in April.
“Australia’s deal reportedly includes a substantial revamp of visa requirements to make it easier for young professionals and young travellers to work and live in both countries, welcomes investment and phases out tariffs and quotas.
“While it’s great for Australia, frankly it should’ve been New Zealand.
“It’s now up to the Government to match, if not better, the Australian deal.
“Our exporters want no constraints in exporting their goods and services to the UK, employers want access to significant numbers of skilled people from the UK to help the recovery from Covid-19, and our businesses want UK investment and global perspectives to fund their growth.
“Bi-lateral trade deals allow governments to showcase how much they value strengthening integration between two peoples and nations. What we’ve seen from the UK Prime Minister and the Australia Prime Minister is a contagious enthusiasm for what’s possible.
“Bringing a ‘hunker down’ and defensive attitude to the negotiating table won’t help our own FTA with the UK.
“The urgency, enthusiasm and passion for our New Zealand exporters needs to be at the front and centre of Minister O’Connor’s agenda.”