UK Investment Minister talks up NZ trade deal

The UK Minister for Investment has given a rousing endorsement of the British – New Zealand relationship at an infrastructure conference in Auckland today, promising Brexit won’t get in the way of New Zealand’s trade opportunities.

Graham Stuart told the Building Nations Symposium he understood why New Zealand companies using the UK as a platform for trade in the EU could be nervous at the moment, “during this period of uncertainty”.

“We have no desire to put up barriers to trade in the EU,” he said.

Calling the fraught Brexit process “an exciting moment in the UK’s history”, Stuart said for the first time in decades Britain was setting its own independent trade policy. He thanked New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for providing invaluable help and advice in that area. “We owe New Zealand a debt of gratitude.”

Stuart told the conference our FTA with Australia was the world’s gold standard of trade agreements, and New Zealand was the only country in the world to negotiate trade deals with China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

“The All Blacks’ track record pales in comparison to New Zealand’s World Trade Organisation negotiators,” he said.

“Global free and open trade can no longer be taken for granted – we are under threat,” he said. “More than ever it falls to countries like New Zealand and Britain to showcase unimpeded bi-lateral trade.

“We want to build a prosperous and secure world for future generations but we can’t do it alone. I can assure you New Zealand will have no firmer ally than Great Britain. Let’s show the world how it can be done.”

Stuart talked up the progress being made on a FTA between the two countries, and stressed the two countries’ close links. About half of all British emigrants head to either Australia or New Zealand, and 65,000 people born in New Zealand now called the UK home. “Our deep personal connections shape our trade,” he said.

The UK is New Zealand’s largest export market in Europe, bigger than Germany, France and Italy combined, and the UK is the largest European investor in New Zealand. Last year British exports to New Zealand grew by 10 percent.

“New Zealand was quite a deliberate choice to aim for a free trade agreement.”

UK companies have a hand in some of the biggest infrastructure projects underway in New Zealand at the moment, including Auckland’s City Rail Link and airport expansion.

Stuart urged those involved in infrastructure development to use these close links to see the UK as a development partner of choice.

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