New Zealand’s negotiations with Britain over a Free Trade Agreement are now going down to the wire with New Zealand holding a trump card.

Negotiators will have worked through last night – and expect to do the same again tonight — as they get closer to an agreement, possibly this week.

Britain needs New Zealand to agree to it becoming a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive  Trans Pacific Partnership  (CPTPP) which the country’s Trade Secretary has promised she will achieve next year.

So unless New Zealand gets an agreement it can live with, it potentially could veto Britain joining the CPTPP.

POLITIK understands that the British are still holding out on agreeing on tariff and quota reductions on beef and sheepmeat — one of the main goals for the New Zealand negotiators.

The Daily Express has quoted Britain’s International Trade Secretary as describing a potential agreement described as a “win-win for both countries” as well as an important step towards accessing the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“As well as chocolate and gin, buses and clothes are among a list of British products on which tariffs of up to 10 per cent could be dumped in a move that would encourage Kiwis to buy British,” the report says.

“In return, high-quality New Zealand products including wine, food and drink could be tariff-free in UK shops.

 “We are working round the clock to get this deal done in the coming weeks.

“We are both big fans of each other’s high-quality products, so this could be a huge boost that allows British shoppers to enjoy lower prices and British exports to be even more competitive.”POLITIK understands that the agreement is likely to be similar to the recent Australia-UK Free Trade (FTA) agreement – but with some tweaking.


The Australian FTA sees beef exports rise by over 200 per cent over 10 years to 110,000 tonnes.

But New Zealand’s beef goes predominantly to the US and China and only a minuscule amount (goes to the UK, so our negotiators have probably been willing to not push too hard on beef access.

The bigger agricultural issue relates to sheepmeat.

Prior to Brexit, New Zealand had a European tariff-free quota of 228,000 tonnes.

But on Brexit, the EU and Britain agreed to split that in half.

Thus New Zealand’s quota into Britain is now only 114,205 tonnes.

POLITIK understands this is still a sticking point in the negotiations; how that amount can be increased and when the tariff rates quotas might end altogether.

New Zealand will be seeking a similar agreement to Australia, which has them end in 15 years.

The big winner out of the FTA negotiations might be dairy. It may even be that New Zealand is prepared to give something away, particularly on beef, to get more tariff-free access for butter and cheese.

Another sticking point is likely to be working holidays.

last year the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade conducted a public consultation on what people wanted to see in the Free Trade Agreement with the UK and found that many submitters suggested loosening the age restrictions and lengthening the two-year length of stay for the UK Youth Mobility Scheme

Australia has extended their permitted stay to three years with an upward age limit of 35.

POLITIK understands getting a satisfactory deal on this is still a problem in the negotiations.

For the UK, the deal is not so much about New Zealand as about its hopes of entering the CPTPP.

Three weeks ago, Truss said that a deal with New Zealand would represent an “important step” towards the UK becoming a part of the CPTT “, a £9 trillion free trade area of 11 Asia-Pacific nations.”

“Membership would open up new opportunities for our Great British businesses, farmers and services, giving them access to some of the largest and fastest-growing markets in the world.”

New Zealand has the ability to veto that deal.

In June, Trade Minister Damien O’Connor became the first New Zealand Minister to travel to the northern hemisphere since the first Covid lockdown in March last year, such as the importance New Zealand attaches to the UK deal.

He met with Truss.

 “There’s been real value in meeting face to face with Secretary Truss,” he said in a statement.

“During our discussions, I reaffirmed New Zealand’s wish to see a high-quality agreement concluded with the UK as swiftly as possible.

“For New Zealand, that means receiving a market access offer that eliminates tariffs and provides commercially meaningful access from day one of the agreement.

“Achieving an ambitious deal remains our priority.”

This week may decide whether he will achieve his ambition.