There haven’t been many weeks since 2016 that have better justified the British people’s historic vote to leave the European Union than this one.
Whilst the European Union has spent the last few days in internal wrangling over another recalcitrant member who simply won’t do as it’s told – this time Poland – the United Kingdom has been focusing on securing our second completely new free trade deal, this time with our longstanding ally New Zealand.
This comes just months after our now Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced a “major milestone for Global Britain” as she put pen to paper on a trade deal with Australia. How fantastic to see this followed up with the first great success of our new International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
This trade deal will provide a significant boost to British exporters and small businesses due to cuts to red tape and an end to tariffs. This will mean tariffs as high as 10 percent will be removed on goods ranging from clothing and footwear to buses, shops, bulldozers and excavators. UK consumers will benefit from cheaper New Zealand produce, with Sauvignon Blanc and the world-renowned Manuka Honey set to see price cuts due to this deal.
Business travel will also be made easier, helping to further cement our deep and historic ties.
Concerns laid out by farmers meanwhile should not be ignored, but I do believe they will prove to be misplaced. Tariffs are only being phased out gradually on agricultural products and while it is true New Zealand lamb will provide stiff competition, no one should talk down the world-leading quality of British produce. Welsh farmers should be licking their lips at the chance to see Welsh lamb go head-to-head with New Zealand lamb.
The anti-trade remain camp may point to the fact that the numbers are not huge, however, total trade of £2.3 billion in the absence of a free trade deal is not a number to be sniffed at.
As the International Trade Secretary said in her Telegraph column, this will be a “win-win.”
This trade deal could not come at a better moment. For too long the world has ignored the emerging geopolitical order, one defined by a new clash of competing political and economic systems. Once again, the models of freedom and authoritarianism face off.
The U.K.’s Integrated Review makes clear that the 2020s are likely to be defined by China’s “increasing power and international assertiveness.” No countries are feeling the heat from Beijing’s assertiveness more than Australia and New Zealand and it’s imperative for historic allies to do everything they can to deepen cooperation on all fronts.
Alongside the UK-Australia free trade deal and the AUKUS security pact, the UK-New Zealand free trade deal is therefore about much more than just cheaper imports and increased exports. In contrast to the E.U. and its member states, it is a sign that we are taking our role in the international system seriously. We aren’t throwing our toys out the pram like France are over the AUKUS pact. Nor are we bolstering Putin’s kleptocracy, like Germany are with Nordstream 2. The EU and New Zealand have been in trade negotiations since 2018 and yet progress seems to be slow on the ground, showing the advantages we now have in negotiating without the cumbersome baggage of 27 member states and a vast bureaucracy hanging over us.
Instead, we are striking trade deals and security pacts quickly and efficiently with our closest historic allies and placing Global Britain in the best possible place to deal with the new geopolitical reality.
We must not rest. The Government should now do all it can to secure our entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership over the coming months.