UK says New Zealand top priority for post-Brexit trade deal

New Zealand's one of three countries the UK considers a top priority for post-Brexit free trade.

UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss met with New Zealand counterpart David Parker in Wellington on Monday morning to discuss trade talks.

She says along with Australia and the United States, we're first in line for a trade deal once the UK leaves the European Union.

"Striking a free trade deal with New Zealand is a very important priority for the UK," she said.

"It's one of the first trade deals we expect to strike."

Last month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and new United Kingdom leader Boris Johnson spoke over the phone about free trade.

In an email, a spokesperson for Downing St said the pair "discussed their shared commitment to an ambitious free trade agreement between the UK and New Zealand at the earliest opportunity".

Ardern called the phone call "very productive".

"Our discussion focused on securing a free trade deal between our countries and Prime Minister Johnson said New Zealand was a high priority for negotiations following Brexit, which is very good for our exporters and economy."

Establishing a free trade agreement is extremely important to New Zealand's relationship with the United Kingdom. 

The UK is New Zealand's fifth-largest food and beverage export market, worth $1.6b in 2017. However, that relationship is threatened by the UK's exit from the European Union. 

If Johnson manages to pass a Brexit Withdrawl Agreement through the British Parliament, a transition period will be implemented, allowing time for the UK and New Zealand to form a new trade agreement.

However, if a deal isn't passed, it's likely a no-deal Brexit will occur, meaning Britain will leave the European Union with no period of transition.

"A no-deal Brexit would likely increase the costs and procurement times of New Zealand exports, reducing demand for these products," said IBISWorld senior industry analyst Liam Harrison in April.

"In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK reverts to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules regarding trade, which would force the UK to place tariffs and quotas on certain products."

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand does have several agreements and continuity arrangements in place to ensure continuity in some trading conditions between New Zealand and the UK, especially in the case of a no-deal exit.

But New Zealand Trade Enterprise has also released information on how businesses can prepare themselves for when Brexit arrives.