Agriculture main focus in trade talks

Global Australia SM Farm

Agriculture will be the main battleground as Australia and New Zealand begin free trade talks with the UK.

And while the Aussies hope to conclude their talks by the end of the year, New Zealand is not putting any timeline on negotiations.

Both Australia and New Zealand are members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and it is hoped this will ease the way to a new deal.

Trade between the UK and New Zealand amounts to $5.6 billion (£2.9 billion), a year.

NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern, pictured above, said agricultural tariffs and access to British markets were the likely stumbling blocks.

“Look at some of the tariffs pricing for some of our exporters,” she said. “Over eight per cent for kiwifruit, roughly 16 per cent for manuka honey. Even onions face a tariff going into the UK.

“There’s a range of different products that we pride ourselves on producing that would really benefit from an agreement.”

The UK High Commissioner in Wellington, Laura Clarke, said Britain wanted to see dropped the five per cent tariff on gin and 10 per cent tariff on car parts.

The UK has ambitions to join both the 11-member trans-Pacific partnership and the NZ-Australia Closer Economic Relations pact, with the current negotiations likely to use these as a baseline.

“We’re not starting with a blank sheet of paper, we’re starting with very good precedents to work from,” according to NZ Trade Minister David Parker.

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