New Zealand gov't solicits opinions on trade deal with Britain

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-23 19:38:30|Editor: xuxin
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WELLINGTON, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government is calling for public submissions on a post-Brexit free trade agreement (FTA) with Britain.

"The UK is one of New Zealand's oldest friends, and a free trade agreement makes a lot of sense," Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker said in a statement on Friday.

"Our shared history, similar legal structures and openness to trade mean a high quality, comprehensive and progressive free trade agreement is a natural next step after Brexit," Parker said.

Both New Zealand and Britain have committed to launching negotiations as soon as Britain is in a position to do so, he said.

In line with the government's Trade for All agenda, New Zealand will seek an agreement that safeguards high standards and protections for labor and the environment, and also promotes gender equality and indigenous rights, among others, according to the minister.

"We want to reduce costs and barriers for New Zealand businesses operating with the UK," he said, adding New Zealand exports to Britain are already worth more than 1.5 billion NZ dollars (1 billion U.S. dollars) annually, and there is an opportunity to grow the links between the two economies even further.

As with all new trade agreements New Zealand makes, the minister said an FTA with Britain will include protections for the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document made between the British Crown and Maori chiefs, and maintain the government's right to pass laws in the public interest.

The work and living rights of New Zealanders in Britain may also be part of future discussions, he added.