New Zealand and the United Kingdom are committed to speeding up their Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with a view to reaching an agreement in principle this August, said Trade Minister Damien O’Connor.
“We have developed constructive and productive discussions towards the completion of a high quality and comprehensive FTA that will support sustainable and inclusive trade and help drive Covid New Zealand’s economic recovery,” O’Connor said in a statement.
On Thursday, UK Secretary of International Trade Liz Truss and Damien O’Connor wrapped up a day of detailed talks in London and issued a joint statement on Friday, UK time.
“Both countries are confident that the remaining issues will be resolved, with talks on track to deliver a fantastic agreement,” the joint statement said.
“The negotiating teams will now speed up the talks and spend the next few weeks finalizing the details with a view to reaching an agreement in principle in August.”
O’Connor described his visit to London as “timely” and “constructive”.
“It was of real value in the face-to-face meeting with Secretary Truss. During our discussions I reaffirmed New Zealand’s desire to see a high-quality UK-linked agreement as soon as possible,” O’Connor said. .
“For New Zealand this means getting a market entry offer that eliminates tariffs and provides commercial sense entry from the first day of the deal.
“Reaching an ambitious agreement remains our priority. Based on the results of our discussions in London this week, we are both confident that our negotiating teams will be able to make significant progress in the coming weeks,” he said. O’Connor.
Prior to leaving for the UK O’Connor had said that so far UK offers had fallen very well from New Zealand expectations and while he wanted to make progress he would not sacrifice quality for speed.
In London, O’Connor said he had also met with Secretary of State in the Cabinet Office Lord Frost and had engagements with key Parliament and industry representatives.
In his capacity as Minister of Agriculture, O’Connor also had a meeting with UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice. They discussed the challenges and opportunities for our respective primary and food sectors and the valuable role an FTA can play in our economic recovery, O’Connor said.
O’Connor leaves for Brussels on Monday morning to meet with his trade counterpart to advance New Zealand’s FTA negotiations with the European Union.
Earlier this week Britain and Australia announced a free trade agreement that the British government hailed as an important step in building new trade relations following its departure from the European Union.
O’Connor will return to New Zealand on June 25 and complete two weeks in solitary confinement and quarantine.
O’Connor’s trip marks the first international trip by a New Zealand minister since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in February 2020.
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