U.K., New Zealand Forge Trade Deal in Latest Post-Brexit Accord
The U.K. sealed a trade deal with New Zealand, its latest post-Brexit accord as it seeks new economic allies after leaving the European Union.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and New Zealand premier Jacinda Ardern agreed to the pact in a video call on Wednesday, according to a statement from the U.K.’s Department for International Trade. The deal includes measures such as improved business-travel arrangements and reduced tariffs on products like clothing, buses, ships and bulldozers, the statement said.
Reaching an accord with Britain’s 53rd-largest trading partner in 2018 is a symbolic and political boost for Johnson as he seeks to demonstrate the benefits of Brexit. However, U.K. government analysis from 2020 estimates that a deal with New Zealand would have no long-term impact on the size of Britain’s economy, all while increased obstacles to trade with the EU have hit exports and led to higher costs for businesses.
“It will benefit businesses and consumers across the country, cutting costs for exporters and opening up access for our workers,” Johnson said in the statement.
The U.K.’s National Farmers Union withheld any praise, saying British farmers will be going “toe-to-toe” with the most export-oriented farmers in the world. “We should all be worried that there could be a huge downside to these deals, especially for sectors such as dairy, red meat and horticulture,” NFU President Minette Batters said in a statement.
Britain’s trade with New Zealand was worth 2.3 billion pounds last year ($3.2 billion), about 0.5% of its trade with the EU in the same period. Brexit erected costly commercial barriers between the U.K. and its largest trading partner, and the split is contributing to a driver shortage that has roiled supply chains.
The deal is the first agreed during the tenure of Britain’s new international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who took over from Liz Truss last month.
The U.K. has already agreed in principle a free-trade agreement with Australia and is attempting to join the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.
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