Wednesday, April 17, 2024

UK free trade Bill enters House

The Government’s strong trade agenda has been underscored today with the introduction of the UK Free Trade Agreement Legislation Bill to the House, says Trade and Export Growth Minister, Damien O’Connor.

“I’m very pleased with the quick progress of the United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement Legislation Bill being introduced to the House today,” said Minister O’Connor.

“It will enable New Zealand to implement its obligations under the FTA and is necessary to bring the FTA into force.”

The Minister said New Zealand’s economic recovery from COVID-19 had been export-led and now was a crucial time to secure further free trade agreements, on the back of a strong body of work that includes the EU FTA negotiations, the CPTPP, the China FTA and Singapore FTA upgrades, RCEP, PACER Plus, and ongoing conversations with the US about an Indo Pacific Economic Framework.

“The UK FTA is a gold-standard agreement and one of the best deals we’ve ever negotiated. It will boost our economy by up to $1 billion and provide us further economic security,” said Mr O’Connor.

“Today takes us a step closer to our exporters and businesses enjoying the benefits of this excellent deal, which we signed in March.

“It will provide unprecedented access to the UK market, including on key products like meat, butter and cheese, wine, and horticulture.”

Under the agreement, the UK will eliminate all tariffs on New Zealand exports, with duties removed on 99.5% of current trade from entry into force.

“This FTA also sets new levels of ambition in inclusive and sustainable trade, including outcomes for Māori, women in trade, and the environment,” Mr O’Connor said.

The Bill will align New Zealand’s domestic law with obligations in the FTA, including amendments to the Tariff Act 1988, the Tariff, the Customs and Excise Regulations 1996, the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001, the Overseas Investment Act 2005, the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005, and the Copyright Act 1994. The Bill also creates new regime required to administer a transitional apple export quota.

The UK is undertaking a similar process and once both countries have completed their respective ratification processes, the FTA can enter into force, the Minister confirmed.

The Bill will be set down for first reading in the following weeks, before going through Select Committee, with the aim to complete New Zealand ratification processes for entry into force by the end of 2022.

Later this week Minister O’Connor will travel to Europe to further advance New Zealand’s FTA negotiations with the European Union. He will also visit Canada and Australia.

The United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement Legislation Bill can be read here.

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