WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s trade minister threw his weight behind Brexit saying he wants the country to secure a “strong trading relationship” with the UK as soon as possible.
Todd McClay said New Zealand wanted to negotiate a free trade agreement with the UK and “improve access” it currently has to Britain’s markets.
The former New Zealand ambassador to the EU met trade minister Lord Price in London to discuss future trading arrangements.
He said he thought a free trade deal would take “a few years”.
Mr McClay said: “I’ve been able to say to Lord Price that New Zealand wants a strong trading relationship with them post Brexit.
“Of course we’re in the process of talking about what that might look like.
“As soon as they leave the EU, we’d like to negotiate an FTA as quickly as possible. “I think it will take a few years. “In the meantime, he and I have agreed that annually we should have a formal ministerial meeting to keep talking about trade policy. “There’s £5 billion dollars worth of two way trade with the UK.
“It’s imperative that we secure that, that the markets stay open for New Zealand exporters but that we can improve upon the access we have at the moment.
“The UK is important to us as the EU market is important to us.
“We want to make sure that Kiwis have the very best opportunity to do well in that market and we want more British companies to come down to partner with Kiwi businesses and to invest here.”
Meanwhile, Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjártó claims post-Brexit Britain will thrive if Theresa May cannot establish a free trade deal with the EU.
Explaining the disastrous situation will harm the bloc’s competitiveness, Mr Szijjártó insisted European Union bigwigs are pushing for a “fair Brexit”.
On Thursday, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned it is impossible for the UK to have “frictionless trade” with Europe from outside of the single market.
Mr Barnier said that the full implications of leaving the EU appeared not to have been “fully understood” by British politicians.