LONDON (AP) – Britain and New Zealand have reached a trade deal that eliminates tariffs on a wide range of products as the UK expands economic ties around the world after exiting the European Union.
The deal was cemented Wednesday evening during a conference call between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, after 16 months of talks between negotiators. Although trade with New Zealand is only 0.2% of UK trade, Britain hopes this will help open the door to joining the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership.
The partnership, which includes Japan, Canada and Vietnam, had a GDP of 8.4 trillion pounds ($ 11.6 trillion) in 2020.
âThis is a great trade deal for the UK, cementing our long friendship with New Zealand and strengthening our ties with the Indo-Pacific,â Johnson said. âThis will benefit businesses and consumers across the country, lowering costs for exporters and opening up access for our workers. “
Ardern said the deal was one of the best ever for New Zealand and that it would boost the country’s economy by around NZ $ 1 billion ($ 720 million) as it opens up the lead to more sales of local wine, butter, cheese and beef.
“This is a historic but substantial deal and it was concluded in essentially a year,” Ardern said. “It has never been done before.”
UK trade officials have trumpeted the benefits of the deal, saying Sauvignon Blanc, Manuka honey and New Zealand kiwifruit would be cheaper for UK consumers. Clothing, buses and bulldozers will also no longer be subject to tariffs.
British farmers expressed concern, however, saying the deal, and another signed with Australia earlier this year, could boost food imports at a time when labor shortages and rising costs are already hurting many UK farmers.
“This could undermine the viability of many British farms in the years to come, to the detriment of the public, who want more British food on their shelves, and to the detriment of our cherished rural communities and cultivated landscapes,” said the president of the National Farmers Union. said Minette Batters.
âInstead of repeating the refrain that these deals will be good for UK agriculture, our government must now explain how these deals will concretely benefit agriculture, the future of food production and the high standards that come with it on those shores, âBatters said. noted.
When asked if the deal meant New Zealand would depend less on China for its exports, Ardern said diversification would improve the options and resilience of its exporters.
When Britain joined what was then the European Economic Community in 1973, many New Zealand exporters felt abandoned.
Ardern said the new deal means it may be time to end this period in history.
Some details of the deal are still being finalized and officials expect it to take effect next year.
Johnson’s Conservative government is negotiating free trade deals around the world in an attempt to spur economic growth after Brexit. The biggest prize would be a trade deal with the United States, although a deal with America seems a long way off.
Perry reported from Wellington, New Zealand.
Follow all of AP’s stories on post-Brexit developments in Britain on https://apnews.com/hub/Brexit.
Danica Kirka and Nick Perry, The Associated Press