What can we sell to New Zealand that we couldn’t before?

First published in August 2020.

Two years ago, on BBC Radio 4, the then Scottish Secretary, David Mundell, was interviewed during his trip to New Zealand to discuss a possible new free trade deal post Brexit.

The Today programme’s Nick Robinson asked him, “What is it that we don’t currently sell to New Zealand, that we might be able to sell after Brexit?” Of course, there was no answer. Why? Because there is nothing we can sell to New Zealand after Brexit that we could not sell to them before.

So, to save your listening time, I have simply edited out the politician’s answers. They are superfluous; they added nothing to the interview. The answers are all contained in Nick Robinson’s questions, so that’s all this 1-minute video contains.

You can, though, listen to the full 5-minute interview and judge for yourself:

Two years later, and there is still no free trade agreement concluded with New Zealand.

It was only on 17 June – this year! – that New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially announced the START of negotiations on a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Government ministers going back and forth between the UK and New Zealand since 2018 to achieve what exactly?

Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss speaks to her counterpart in New Zealand to BEGIN trade talks between the UK and New Zealand, 15 June 2020. / Flickr – Number 10

Last month (July 2020) UK Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, said that a trade deal with New Zealand was an “essential” part of helping the U.K. economy recover from the coronavirus slump. “Although it’s more than 11,000 miles away, we couldn’t be much closer in values and friendship,” Ms Truss enthused. “We have a proud shared history, and also a common commitment to advance rules-based free trade, fight protectionism and defend international rules.”

Oh dear. We already had that just 20 miles away across the English Channel.

Trade between the UK and New Zealand is miniscule. According to the UK government’s own forecasts, a trade deal with New Zealand will have a negligible effect on the British economy and could make it shrink slightly and leave people worse off. The government’s own modelling conceded that the effect on GDP from a UK-New Zealand trade will be “close to zero”.

And yet, our trade with the EU is colossal – it’s where almost half of ALL our exports go to and just over half of ALL our imports come from. We are closing off free trade with our biggest trading partner, right on our doorstep, so we can have a bit of trade with a little island country thousands of miles away in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, which we could do before Brexit anyway?

My head hurts. I need to take a rest.🔷


Check their Voting Record:

🗳️ David Mundell

🗳️ Liz Truss

[This piece was originally published on Facebook and re-published in PMP Magazine on 5 August 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/Number 10. - Liz Truss trade talks with New Zealand. | 15 June 2020. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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