2 Nov 2009

NZ strikes trade deal with Gulf states

10:50 pm on 2 November 2009

New Zealand has struck a trade deal with six oil-rich Persian Gulf states after six rounds of negotiations.

Trade Minister Tim Groser says the deal will help improve New Zealand's access to some its most important markets in the Middle East.

Mr Groser says this deal, and others with Malaysia and China, represent a multitude of new trading opportunities for New Zealand but he is reticent about the exact details of the deal.

Trade with the Gulf Co-operation Council has already increased 218% since 2000, with total exports to the region now worth $1.3 billion.

Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, as a group, now represent New Zealand's seventh largest trading partner.

Two-way trade is worth $3.85 billion.

Mr Groser says while this country's main exports to the region are dominated by dairy products, sheep meat and wood, there is a growing market for information and communications technology, education, environmental and professional services.

Officials must now legally verify the agreement, which is likely to be formally signed in the first half of next year.

A former trade negotiator and Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce chief executive Charles Finny says the deal should help to improve access to important Middle East markets.