UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson drops rugby jokes during free trade deal chat with Jacinda Ardern

The leaders of New Zealand and the UK couldn't resist dropping a few rugby jokes as they celebrated their historic free trade agreement (FTA) during a video call. 

"Jacinda, I just want to say this is a big moment for the UK and for our partnership with New Zealand, and we're absolutely thrilled that we seem to have driven for the line," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said from Downing St in London. 

"We've scrummed down, we've packed tight, and together we've got the ball over the line and we have a deal - and I think it's a great deal."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, beaming in from her Beehive office in Wellington, put a smile on Johnson's face with her own rugby reference. 

"Thank you, Prime Minister, and look, I loved your use of rugby metaphors, but if we were going to continue that, naturally, it would conclude with the All Blacks winning, and I know that New Zealand feels that way with this free trade agreement," Ardern said.

"But it's actually good for both of us, as it happens. 

"It's good for our relationship, which is long-standing, which is unique, which has always included our people-to-people exchange being incredibly important to us, but also our trading relationship is incredibly important to both of us as well, and this is an extension of that. 

"To reach an agreement in principle around such a high-quality agreement that is really based on the values that I know we both hold dear, and that really elevates those things that we've both been prioritising as part of a trade agreement... is really a moment to celebrate."

Under the FTA, tariffs, or export tax, will be eliminated from day one on 97 percent of products, including New Zealand's largest exports such as wine valued at $463.1 million, honey worth $74.9 million and onions worth $8 million. 

At full implementation, modelling shows New Zealand exports to the UK will increase by up to 40 percent and increase GDP by up to $970 million, saving exporters an estimated $37.8 million per year. 

"I think it means that we will be able to have the benefit of our wonderful New Zealand products even more cheaply than before. We've got from Sauvignon Blanc to Manuka honey and kiwifruit and all sorts of other benefits," Johnson said. 

"I think it's a good deal for both of us."

By contrast, the deal will remove barriers to trade and deepen access for the UK's tech and services companies. Tariffs will be removed on a huge range of UK goods, from clothing and footwear to buses, ships, bulldozers and excavators, giving British exporters an advantage over international rivals in New Zealand.

"It's part of our vision in the UK, as you know, Jacinda, to deepen our ties with the Indo-Pacific region, particularly with New Zealand," Johnson said. "Our whole Indo-Pacific tilt is in your direction, and we see this as a big, big part of that."

And like Australia's deal with the UK, New Zealand has secured improvements to working holiday visas. This is separate from the FTA. 

The exact details are subject to final discussions but are expected to be similar to what's been announced between Australia and the UK. Under that agreement, the age limit for working holiday visas was increased from 30 to 35 and the time limit extended from two years to three. 

"You know, there are four things that stand out for me," Ardern said.  

"First is the fact that it removes all tariffs and tackles barriers that have previously limited trade and opportunities between both countries. 

"Second, it's reinforcing our joint commitment to climate action, and you can see that really embedded in this agreement and our commitment to improving the environment of both our nations and indeed the world.

"The third for us, the inclusion of an indigenous chapter, I think, really speaks to the unique history that we have and as an acknowledgement of that. 

"And the fourth for me is concluding on matters that relate to our people-to-people exchange because again, that's what makes our relationship unique and it's so much a part of who we are as a nation, the people-to-people links that we have with you. 

"So, I believe this is an agreement that we can both be rightly proud of. 

"Unlike a rugby match, I think we can literally both come off the field feeling like winners on this occasion, and I do want to join with you in thanking everyone who's been involved in concluding this agreement and look forward to both countries reaping the benefit of it."