11 Nov 2016

UK minister in NZ for free trade discussions

7:35 pm on 11 November 2016

A government minister from the United Kingdom is in the country doing the initial scoping work for a free trade deal with New Zealand.

UK's Minister for the Asia Pacific Alok Sharma.

UK's minister for the Asia Pacific Alok Sharma. Photo: WikiCommons

The UK's minister for the Asia Pacific, Alok Sharma, has been meeting with senior government ministers this week discussing future trade opportunities.

He is the first minister from the UK to visit New Zealand since it voted to leave the European Union.

Last month it was announced New Zealand and the United Kingdom were opening a "trade dialogue" to begin preparing formal trade ties once the UK formally leaves the EU.

Mr Sharma said over the past four months he had met many investors and governments who were excited about the trade opportunities Brexit would bring.

He said the United Kingdom remained open for business.

"Now obviously we can't have formal negotiations on free trade deals with any third party country until we have concluded on our future relationship with the European Union, but we can certainly have a discussion and scope out what arrangements in the future may look like.

"And I think the fact that we are doing it with New Zealand, one of the first countries we're doing it with just demonstrates the strength of our relationship."

Mr Sharma said the UK was moving on from Brexit.

"Let me be clear, I campaigned to remain in the European Union and I think the result was a surprise to very many people - but we've moved on.

"Four months on, the view is different, we very much have the view that we are forging ahead. We're putting together our negotiation stance with the European Union and as I said, looking outwardly to other countries."