LONDON, England: The UK and New Zealand have agreed to establish a free trade zone, claiming it will benefit consumers and businesses, with the British government hoping it will lead to membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The free trade zone will reduce costs for exporters and open up New Zealand's job market to British professionals, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
However, according to the UK government's own estimates, it is unlikely to boost Britain's growth, as less than 0.2% of British trade is conducted with New Zealand, though it opens the possibility of increasing lamb exports to the UK.
The opposition Labour Party and the National Farmers Union (NFU) said the deal could hurt UK farmers and lower food standards, but International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said it "affords opportunities in both directions for sharing produce."
UK goods, including clothing, ships and bulldozers, and New Zealand goods, including wine, honey and kiwi fruits, will be exempt from tariffs under the agreement.
Additionally, British professionals, such as lawyers and architects, could more easily work in New Zealand, the UK government added.
The UK sees the agreement as a step forward towards joining the CPTPP, which includes Australia, Canada, Mexico and Japan, giving it more access to services and digital trade.
But British farmers said the deal, like the one signed with Australia, could negatively affect UK dairy and meat farmers, with its president, Minette Batters, stating, "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," as quoted by the BBC.
Emily Thornberry, shadow trade secretary, said the government's own figures showed the agreement would "cut employment in our farming communities, produce zero additional growth, and generate just £112m in additional exports for UK firms, compared to pre-pandemic levels," adding that the only winners were "the mega-corporations who run New Zealand's meat and dairy farms," according to the BBC.
In response, Trevelyan affirmed British farmers should not be concerned, since the lambing seasons in the UK and New Zealand are at different times of the year.