Following the UK’s referendum for Brexit, the New Zealand government should make trade negotiations with Britain a priority.
As the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union, London will need to sort out not only its relationship with the remaining 27 members of the EU but also with the rest of the world.
Dr Oliver Hartwich, Executive Director of think tank The New Zealand Initiative, said, “For the past 43 years, Britain did not have a trade policy of its own since it was part of the EU. London now quickly needs to establish trade agreements if it does not want to fall back on World Trade Organisation rules.
"For New Zealand, this is a great opportunity. As a small, free-trading nation, New Zealand has expertise in negotiating trade deals such as the free trade agreements with China, Hong Kong and South Korea.
"The New Zealand government should make this expertise available to the UK government and work constructively towards a New Zealand-United Kingdom free trade agreement. If such a deal includes Australia, it would be even better.”
Dr Hartwich also pointed out that the leading candidate to replace outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron has previously called for a strengthening of Britain’s ties with Australia and New Zealand.
“In one of his Daily Telegraph columns in 2013, Boris Johnson called for a Free Labour Mobility Zone between the UK and Australia and New Zealand. Mr Johnson is obviously interested in reviving the ties that Britain’s entry into the Common Market in 1973 severed. Should he become Britain’s next Prime Minister, the New Zealand government should cooperate closely with Mr Johnson in deepening the relationship between the two countries.”
From a New Zealand perspective, the biggest downside of Britain’s departure from the European Union could delay a free trade deal with the European Union. Said Dr Hartwich, “The United Kingdom has always been one of the EU members most committed to free trade. Negotiating a trade agreement without the EU will become harder, especially since the EU will be distracted by long divorce talks with London. Nevertheless, New Zealand should pursue trade deals with both the UK and the EU.”
Source: The New Zealand Initiative. For more information visit www.nzinitiative.org.nz