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UK seek free trade agreement with NZ

Press Association logoPress Association 13/01/2017

Britain will try to strike a free trade agreement with New Zealand when it leaves the European Union, Theresa May has said.

The Prime Minister said, after a working lunch with her New Zealand counterpart Bill English at Downing Street, that the two countries agree on the potential for a "bold" new trading relationship after Brexit.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox will visit New Zealand in the coming months to begin a bilateral dialogue between the two nations with the ultimate aim of striking a trade deal.

NZ is believed to be seen in Government circles as one of the best prospects for an early trade deal once Britain quits the EU.

It is also one of the global "five eyes" partners who share their security intelligence with the UK, along with the US, Canada and Australia.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Mr English, Mrs May said the two countries have a "strong and growing" trading relationship worth more than AGBP3 billion ($NZ5.1 billion) a year.

Britain is also the second largest foreign investor in New Zealand and its fifth largest bilateral trading partner, she said.

"As two island nations we know that trade is essential to the prosperity of our countries and so it's natural that we share a firm, deep-rooted belief in the power of free trade and open markets to drive economic progress," May said.

"While the UK remains in the EU we will work together to support an EU-New Zealand trade deal and we will also look to the future and how we can expand our trade and investment partnership.

"In the longer term we agree on the potential for a bold, new UK-New Zealand free trade agreement and I look forward to starting early discussions on this in due course.

we can't formally sign up to free trade agreements while we remain a member of the European Union. But as I indicated earlier, a dialogue has started to see how we can scope out the work that needs to be done."

Mr English said he wanted to see a trade deal concluded "as soon as possible" after Brexit.

"If the UK want to demonstrate that they can negotiate a high-quality trade agreement, then New Zealand is the ideal partner for that."

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