Radio New Zealand | 6 July 2015
Free trade deal with EU the next in line
With the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement still a work in progress, New Zealand negotiators have their eye on the next target as well — a free trade deal with the European Union.
Executive director of the New Zealand International Business Forum, Stephen Jacobi, said the TPP had taken a decisive step forward after the US Congress finally granted fast-track authority to President Obama to conclude negotiations.
Mr Jacobi told the Federated Farmers national conference last week that if the TPP could be concluded it would be another step forward in securing the future environment for agri-business in the Asia Pacific region.
He said a new trade agreement with the European Union could do the same - and that was the next cab off the rank for New Zealand.
"Although the relationship is in reasonable shape, many New Zealand products still face tarrifs at the border and other problems at the border and behind it," said Mr Jacobi.
"They add costs, generate uncertainty, and in some cases even make trade uneconomic.
Mr Jacobi said present arrangements, dating from the Uruguay round 30 years ago, in some areas may leave New Zealand at a disadvantage compared to competitors who had preferential access.
New Zealand was one of a handful of countries with which the the European Union did not have free trade agreements.
"The others include Australia, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan and we have free trade agreements with all of them," said Mr Jacobi.
"So a free trade agreement could link European companies with partners in our country, which is already deeply embedded in the economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific region, offering new dynamic opportunities to both sides.
"That’s why we in the international business forum are encouraging the governments in the European Union and New Zealand to begin negotiating a modern, cutting edge free trade agreement."