New Zealand and Britain launch free trade talks

FILE PHOTO: Minister for Trade and Export Growth of New Zealand, David Parker, attends a news conference after a meeting of the representatives of the countries members of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Santiago, Chile May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand on Wednesday formally launched free trade talks with Britain, which is looking to line up post-Brexit agreements with other countries.

New Zealand would be among the first countries to negotiate a trade agreement with Britain in a post-Brexit era, Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker said in a statement.

“In the post Brexit environment, it makes more sense than ever for us to be working together to grow this partnership for the future,” Parker said.

The Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which has been informally discussed between both nations for a while, will open up more opportunities for small and medium sized businesses, indigenous Māori exporters, and our regional communities, he said.

Britain is New Zealand’s sixth largest trading partner, and two-way trade totalled almost NZ$6 billion ($3.87 billion) last year.

The first round of negotiations is expected to take place by video conference from mid-July, Parker added.

Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa