With trade minister Damien O’Connor due in the northern hemisphere in September, London’s Daily Telegraph reports a free trade agreement between the UK and NZ is close.
Citing sources in the UK Department of international Trade, the newspaper says hopes are growing that a deal can be secured “within weeks.” An announcement on New Zealand before the end of August is “highly possible” as discussions intensify.
Australia’s agreement with the UK was settled in June. The UK Government hopes to get it signed off by Boris Johnson and his counterpart Scott Morrison when the latter visits Britain in October for the Cop26 climate conference.
The Daily Telegraph’s source said trade secretary Liz Truss would be driving a hard bargain on key areas of interest.
“New Zealand will need to give us more on services, mobility and investment if they want a deal. If we have to go beyond then into September to get the best deal, then so be it.”
Any agreement is likely to take a similar shape to Australia’s, which proposes a widespread liberalisation including staged removals of tariff quotas on agricultural exports which has drawn criticism from British farmers.
The Telegraph says the NZ FTA is expected to have a negligible effect on the UK’s GDP, with modelling by the trade department even indicating that an extensive deal could mildly reduce Britain’s national output.
Recent events have provided a potentially awkward backdrop for what may be the final weeks of talks. Amazon last week announced that it would shift production of its highly anticipated Lord of the Rings TV series from New Zealand to the UK, in a major blow to the country’s creative and tourism industries, the paper said.