UK 'closing in on' striking free trade agreement with New Zealand, Liz Truss says

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The UK is "closing in on" striking an agreement in principle with New Zealand, the international trade secretary has said.

Liz Truss said "great progress" had been made in the sixth round of discussions between the two sides, which took place from 19 to 30 July.

"We're closing in on an agreement in principle, with six more chapters now complete," she said.

"The UK and New Zealand share core values, a long history and a commitment to free trade.

"I want a modern agreement that pushes new frontiers in areas like green and digital trade."

The Department for International Trade (DfIT) said an agreement could remove tariffs on goods, reducing costs for consumers and facilitating access for UK services and investment.

Ms Truss added that a deal with New Zealand would represent an "important step" towards the UK becoming a part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a £9trn free trade area of 11 Asia-Pacific nations.

"Membership would open up new opportunities for our Great British businesses, farmers and services, giving them access to some of the largest and fastest-growing markets in the world."

The prospect of a trade deal with New Zealand comes after an agreement was struck between the UK and Australia last month.

It was the first trade pact negotiated from scratch after Brexit.

Boris Johnson hailed the deal as a "new dawn" in the UK's relationship with Australia that would make a range of goods cheaper to sell, but farming groups had raised concerns about being undercut and warned that it could imperil livelihoods.

The DfIT said environmental protections and food standards will not be compromised in pursuit of free trade agreements.

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