Important for UK to convert trade liberalisation narrative to action as it seeks to join CPTPP

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In welcoming the UK’s application to join the CPTPP agreement, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is stressing the need for the UK to convert its statements of commitment to leadership in global trade liberalisation to meaningful action.

“The UK’s application to join CPTPP is another great sign of its interest in advancing global trade liberalisation. However, the real test of UK trade leadership comes from how it honours its existing commitments and what it is prepared to put on the table in negotiations” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

“Despite the UK’s strong statements of ambition, including for a high-quality UK-NZ FTA, we are yet to see it remedy concerns about diminished quota access following Brexit and we have detected hesitancy on its part to bringing real liberalisation to the FTA negotiating table. Avoiding a disconnect between intent and action is important if current and potential trade negotiating partners are to have confidence in the UK’s stated ambitions”.

The New Zealand dairy sector is placing priority on the UK-NZ FTA agreeing an end point of comprehensive tariff elimination for all dairy products. This would put New Zealand dairy exporters on par with European exporters in terms of the level of market access they have had into the UK market for nearly 50 years. The UK has reconfirmed its ability to provide full liberalisation on dairy through its recently concluded bilateral trade agreement with the EU.

“We urge the New Zealand Government to send a strong message to the UK that it must prove its trade credentials before gaining the privilege of being the first nation outside of the Trans-Pacific region to benefit from CPTPP membership”.

The UK, as a major economy forging its own independent trade policy, has a unique opportunity to set the tone of global trade policy at this crucial moment. The world needs frictionless trade to support COVID-19 pandemic response and economic recovery, and as protectionism threatens to rear its ugly head in other countries COVID-19 responses, unequivocal leadership from the UK would give the global economy much needed confidence.