NZ exporters welcome reassurances after Brexit

The high New Zealand dollar had been proving tough for exporters. Photo / Richard Robinson
The high New Zealand dollar had been proving tough for exporters. Photo / Richard Robinson

News that a free trade agreement with the European Union is still on track, despite Brexit, has been welcomed by New Zealand’s export sector.

Trade Minister Todd McClay was in Shanghai this weekend at the G20 trade ministers meeting, and said he had been assured that New Zealand’s trade interests would not be negatively affected by Brexit.

“I have sought, and received, assurances that the trade relationship we share with the EU and the UK will continue and that New Zealand will be involved in any discussions between the EU and UK in relation to anything that involves our trade,” McClay said.

“All parties spoke of the need for calm reflection and an orderly process of discussion on trade.”

Export New Zealand executive director Catherine Beard said the news was extremely positive for the export sector, which had been worried about the impact of Brexit on free trade negotiations.

“It has been concerning, there’s a lot of uncertainty,” Beard said. “It’s really positive that the trade minister has had those assurances.

“The preliminary work and talks had already got under way for a New Zealand EU free trade agreement, so when Brexit came along there was some concern that it might get sidelined,” she said.

“I think the EU was wanting to send a signal that things were business as usual as far as they were concerned so that’s very encouraging as the EU is a big trade partner for New Zealand and we still face significant trade barriers there.”

Beard said the EU already had free trade agreements with other countries which put New Zealand at a competitive disadvantage.

McClay met British trade and investment, Lord Price and EU Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmström, who confirmed that New Zealand remained on track to negotiate an agreement with the EU.

McClay said there had been considerable effort put into negotiations by both sides, with a high quality trade agreement being beneficial for both parties.

“We have a lot in common with the EU, including working toward further trade rules around agriculture, SMEs, and services in the World Trade Organisation,” McClay said. “This cooperation will continue, as will our access to the EU market, valued at $8.6 billion per year.”

Beard said the positive sentiment from the UK was also good news for New Zealand when it looked to renegotiate its free trade deal.

The high New Zealand dollar had been proving tough for exporters, with Beard saying manufacturing exporters were particularly concerned.

- NZ Herald

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