Sun, 05 Dec 2021

LONDON, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Britain has agreed a new trade deal with New Zealand, viewing it a step forward for Britain to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) despite concerns from British farmers.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern sealed the deal in a video call on Wednesday after 16 months of talks by negotiating teams, according to a statement from Britain's Department for International Trade.

Under the deal, tariffs as high as 10 percent will be removed on a huge range of British goods, from clothing and footwear to buses, ships, bulldozers and excavators. High-quality New Zealand products loved by British consumers, from Sauvignon Blanc wine to Manuka honey and kiwi fruits, could be cheaper to buy.

The deal will remove barriers to trade and deepen access for Britain's advanced tech and services companies, while making it easier for smaller businesses to break into New Zealand's market. British workers will benefit from improved business travel arrangements and professionals such as lawyers and architects will be able to work in New Zealand more easily.

Britain-New Zealand trade was worth 2.3 billion pounds (about 3.2 billion U.S. dollars) last year. The BBC said the deal is not likely to increase Britain's economic growth -- or gross domestic product (GDP) -- according to the British government's own assessments while New Zealand will fare slightly better as it may be able to sell more lamb to Britain.

The deal sparked concern from British farmers. The National Farmers Union (NFU) said the deal, like the one with Australia, could have a "huge downside", especially for dairy and meat farmers, according to the BBC.

NFU President Minette Batters said the Australia and New Zealand deals mean "we will be opening our doors to significant extra volumes of imported food -- whether or not produced to our own high standards -- while securing almost nothing in return for UK farmers".

However, the British government said the New Zealand trade deal follows advanced free trade agreements already struck with Australia and Japan and helps pave the way for Britain to join the CPTPP, a free trade area of 11 Pacific nations with a GDP of 8.4 trillion pounds (about 11.6 billion dollars) in 2020.

Britain applied to join the CPTPP in January, another key part of its post-Brexit trade negotiations program. The British government said the CPTPP membership will diversify its trading links and supply chains, and turn it into a global hub for businesses and investors wanting to trade with the rest of the world.

CPTPP members include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. It represented 13 percent of global GDP in 2018, which would increase to more than 16 percent if Britain were to join, according to a British government policy paper.

After Brexit, Britain is able to negotiate, sign and ratify new trade agreements. It prioritizes negotiations with the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The British government is also continuing work to replicate existing EU trade agreements with other countries.

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