20 Jul 2018

UK's interest in NZ trade deal sparks call for better visa access

12:36 pm on 20 July 2018

The United Kingdom's interest in joining the revamped TPP trade deal has sparked calls from National for New Zealand to put work and holiday visas on the table in free trade talks.

Minister of Economic Development David Parker. 10 April 2108

Minister of Trade David Parker is looking forward to negotiations with the United Kingdom on potential free trade agreements with New Zealand. Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

The British government has started public consultation on negotiating a trade deal with New Zealand.

The move comes a month after New Zealand began free trade negotiations with the European Union.

National's foreign affairs and trade spokesperson Todd McClay said negotiations should also ensure better access for New Zealand workers and tourists to the UK.

"The UK first signalled that New Zealand would be a 'first cab off the rank' for a post-Brexit FTA in March of last year," Mr McClay said.

"The government must make the most of the opportunity a trade negotiation presents. In particular it will be important that Kiwis gain better work visa access to the UK, and improved access for agricultural products."

Minister of Trade and Export Growth David Parker told Morning Report it would be natural for the visas suggestion to come up during negotiations with Kiwis commonly going there for visits and work.

However, he said before negotiations could proceed the UK would have to undergo a consultation process.

"They want to be in a position to do that by the 29th of March next year, which is the date by which they will have had to agreed to their Brexit terms," Mr Parker said.

"It won't be until they complete their Brexit terms that we know what will be the freedom of movement, if you like, or the freedom of negotiation that they have in their post-brexit relationship in the EU which has flow-on effects for the New Zealand agreement.

Upon talking with the UK's Trade Minister Liam Fox, Mr Parker said CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) was a good deal for countries amid the rise of protectionism.

"They see it as a trade grouping that could bolster the like-minded countries having open access to global markets."

The protectionism issue rising as a result of the United States and China's row over trade tariffs has caused serious concerns, Mr Parker said.

"There are also some threats to the overall trade rules and the World Trade Organisation," he said.

"So that does worry us, if the world returns to situations where you rely on bilateral agreements then the ability of a small country to negotiate them in order to avoid being at the whim of larger superpowers can become more difficult."

Mr Parker said it was one of the reasons there was a push for different free trade agreements to be made.

"Of course we're trying to protect New Zealand's right to regulate things we hold dear at home, but we're also trying to secure market access against this rising tide of protectionism."

There was less confidence over whether New Zealand would be exempt from steel and aluminium tariffs that the United States imposed, but it remained a possibility, Mr Parker said.

There were also no signs that there would be retaliation from China, after the [http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018652548/govt-s-defence-strategy-takes-solid-stance-on-china Defence Strategy was published earlier this month, and negotiations on trade with New Zealand have continued, he said.

The strategy had outlined a tough stance on China, which National Party leader Simon Bridges said there would be no doubt of economic ramifications on New Zealand as a result.

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