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The International Trade Secretary is locked in negotiations to thrash out the final sticking points in the agreement that will axe tariffs between the nations. Whitehall sources said the deal was “quite close, but there are a few things still to resolve”. The insider added: “New Zealand will need to give us more on digital and services trade.” Total trade in goods and services between the two nations was worth £2.3billion last year and it had been hoped a trade deal would boost it by as much as £100million a year.
The source said: “Liz spent most of the weekend in negotiations with her opposite number, and the talks will be continuing this week.”
The free trade deal will encourage New Zealanders to buy British, stripping tariffs of up to 10 percent off products like chocolate, gin, clothes and buses. It will mean lower bills for shoppers in the UK buying products such as wine, food and drink. New Zealand wine is currently hit by tariffs of up to 20p per bottle.
A deal will be a boost to the UK’s bid to join the group of 11 countries in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which includes New Zealand and Australia, as well as Canada, Japan and Singapore.
Ms Truss said last month: “New Zealand is a leading member of CPTPP, a free trade area worth around £9trillion, and is supporting the UK’s bid to join.”
That would open opportunities for UK businesses to sell in some of the largest and fastest-growing markets in the world.
The bloc includes some of the world’s biggest economies in an area with a population of half a billion. New Zealand’s import market is expected to grow by 30 percent by 2030.