Boris Johnson appoints former rival as UK trade envoy to NZ

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23 Aug, 2021 07:00 AM

The UK’s trade envoy to New Zealand, MP David Mundell. Photo / Supplied

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appointed a trade envoy to New Zealand, Conservative MP and former Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell, as talks for a UK-NZ free trade agreement continue.

Mundell is one of 10 new trade envoys selected from both Houses of Parliament, including cricketing legend Lord Ian Botham, who will be envoy to Australia. The new appointments mean there will be 36 envoys covering 76 different countries.

They are unpaid and voluntary roles and are designed to boost British business in selected markets since Britain left the European Union and began negotiating its own trade deals.

International trade secretary Liz Truss said the envoys worked alongside the joint No 10 – Department for International Trade Office for Investment to encourage great inward investment across the UK.

UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss. Photo / Getty Images
UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss. Photo / Getty Images

Johnson said he was making the appointment as the UK neared an agreement in principle with New Zealand. He and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced as agreement in principle in June which included: an elimination of tariffs on beef and sheep meat within 10 years, on sugar over eight years and on dairy products over five years. It also included more generous working arrangements for younger people.

Six rounds of negotiations on the NZ FTA have been held so far and the UK estimates that the final deal will lift the current $4.6 million in annual two-way trade by about $200m a year.

Mundell was first made Secretary for Scotland in 2015 by David Cameron and held it through Theresa May’s leadership. He was sacked in July 2019 when Johnson, whom Mundell opposed, replaced May as Prime Minister.

Mundell also campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union at the 2016 referendum.

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In 2018 he visited Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin to promote Scottish exports.

In welcoming his appointment as envoy, he said there were huge opportunities to increase trade.

“I will be looking to build on the strong historic links between New Zealand and the UK but also to grasp new opportunities.

“As secretary of State for Scotland, I promoted Scottish and UK products and services from whisky to tech and found a welcoming and receptive audience.

“I am sure we can turn that positive attitude into real business and subsequently jobs for both countries.”

The latest appointments are:
David Mundell MP – New Zealand
Lord Botham – Australia
Baroness Hoey – Ghana
Stephen Timms, MP – Switzerland and Lichtenstein
Mark Eastwood, MP – Pakistan
Marco Longhi, MP – Brazil
Conor Burns, MP – Canada
Lord Walney, – Tanzania
Felicity Buchan, MP – Iceland and Norway
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, MP (already envoy to Egypt) – Cameroon