McClay positive on trade issues with EU
Trade Minister Todd McClay is reassured Brexit won’t affect New Zealand securing a free-trade deal with the European Union and is upbeat about the EU’s position on World Trade Organisation (WTO) issues of interest to New Zealand.
He was commenting after a meeting with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom in Oslo, Norway ahead of the WTO mini-ministerial meeting he was there for.
“The commissioner confirmed to me that EU progress towards an FTA with New Zealand remains on track and that she did not expect Brexit to be an obstacle to the launch of negotiations.
“We have recommitted to work constructively together towards the launch of negotiations,” says Mr McClay.
New Zealand and the EU agreed in 2015 to begin working towards a deep, comprehensive and high-quality FTA.
Two-way trade between NZ and the EU is about $20 billion each year. This includes $5.5 billion of trade with the United Kingdom.
Commenting on WTO issues, Mr McClay said he and Commissioner Malmstrom agreed on the importance of working towards reducing non-tariff barriers (NTBs), addressing harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to over fishing, and reform of domestic support in agriculture.
He said they were both committed to progressing these important issues during meetings preparing for the next WTO Ministerial Conference in 2017.
“Consensus is developing amongst some WTO members on these issues, which are significant priorities for New Zealand. Much work remains, however, before a credible outcome can be expected.
New Zealand believes NTBs and domestic support in agriculture distort trade and need to be dealt with.
“With agreement to remove agricultural export subsidies at the end of last year we’ve seen some progress, however, my strongly held view is that much more must be done. This can only be properly addressed in the WTO.”
“I welcome New Zealand and the European Union working together in the WTO and in continuing to work together to strengthen our trading relationship,” he said.