Move over All Blacks here come the real champions –  the bureaucrats who negotiate our trade deals.

That’s what Britain’s Parliamentary Under Secretary for International Trade, Graham Stuart, told Infrastructure New Zealand’s conference in Auckland yesterday.

He was there ostensibly to pitch for British companies’ involvement in some of the large infrastructure projects currently being planned by the Government.

And though he previously favoured Britain staying in the EU, he made a strong argument for a British – New Zealand Free Trade Agreement post-Brexit.

“The All Blacks track pales in comparison to the respect afforded your World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade negotiators in Geneva,” he said.

“They are so good, in fact, that the Department of International Trade has hired as its Chief Trade Negotiations Advisor, Crawford Falconer,  one of yours.

“The UK hopes to replicate at least some of your success.”

He said Britain was going to seize Brexit to reshape global trade in the future.

“We believe this is a once on a generation commercial and economic opportunity not only for Britain but for New Zealand and all of our key economic partners.”


He said New Zealand’s support to Britain during the Brexit negotiations had been invaluable.

“The setting up of the Department for International Trade over the last two years has been made so much easier thanks to the advice and support of your own Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“You’ve shared your extensive experience and helped us deliver immediate success.

“We owe New Zealand a great debt of gratitude.”