10 Sep 2012

NZ not seen as serious on Russian trade deal

4:37 pm on 10 September 2012

Former ambassador to Moscow Stewart Prior says Russia does not believe New Zealand is serious about entering a free trade deal.

Prime Minister John Key and President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings on Saturday.

Afterwards, Mr Key said he had been invited to Moscow next year and hoped that a free trade agreement would be signed then.

Mr Prior told Morning Report on Monday that it is a major blow that New Zealand has not yet been able to form an economic relationship with Russia.

But he said that is likely because New Zealand is sending a message to Russia that it is not serious about the deal.

He said New Zealand is acting like Russia is just another notch on its free-trade belt and needs to convince it that the two countries could work together.

Mr Prior said the Russia feels that partnership should include New Zealand helping in the reconstruction of its agriculture industry.

Mr Prior served as New Zealand Ambassador to Moscow from 2003-06. He now acts as a consultant for businesses that want to trade with Russia.