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Britain is close to signing a free trade deal with New Zealand that could pave the way for cheaper wine and meat imports, it was reported.
It’s understood that ministers have held talks to slash prices and safeguard as many jobs as possible in both countries. A new deal would increase the existing trade links, worth £2.9bn in 2019.
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Ms Truss’s team is said to have drawn up an outline of the deal, which would significantly reduce tariffs on New Zealand produce such as beef, lamb and wine entering the UK.
Britain would return the favour by exporting more cars, gin and food to New Zealand. At present, goods from New Zealand are subject to a 20 per cent import tax set by the EU — which can now be removed after Brexit.
“New Zealand is likely to be the next big deal we get over the line,” a source told the paper. “It is neck and neck between them and Australia but there’s every chance a [New Zealand] deal closes first. A deal would support jobs across Britain.”
New Zealand’s trading partnership with the UK stretches back to the 1960s, when it dispatched half of all its exports here. But the number of consignments fell in 1973 when the UK joined the European Union.
Last year, Ms Truss said a trade deal with New Zealand is a “step towards” membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Members include New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Singapore, and Mexico.