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NZ to join Latin American trade bloc

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/06/2017

New Zealand is set to officially become an associate member of the Pacific Alliance, the first step towards a trade deal with the Latin American bloc.

The alliance - made up of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru - will this week admit New Zealand, along with Australia, Canada and Singapore, as associates, Reuters reports.

New Zealand's government has been eyeing a free trade deal with the four Latin American countries, with Trade Minister Todd McClay and Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee in Colombia this week for the alliance's summit.

The associate membership status is seen as a first step towards expanding trade and investment with the group, a major supporter of free trade in the region.

The bloc in March announced it would be admitting associate members and Mr McClay at the time said New Zealand was expected to be one of the first countries in line to try and strike a deal.

"We've been talking to the four Pacific Alliance countries about better access for Kiwi exporters for the last two years," he said before he left for Colombia on Monday.

New Zealand currently has more than $1.1 billion of two-way trade with the four countries but New Zealand exporters face high tariffs on many products, including dairy.

"A high-quality free trade agreement presents a huge opportunity for New Zealand companies exporting to this fast-growing region," Mr McClay said.

The alliance has this week also announced it is looking at the possibility of creating a single passport for its four core member countries.

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