11 Jul 2016

NZ on track for EU free trade deal - McClay

8:21 am on 11 July 2016

Brexit - Trade Minister Todd McClay has received strong assurances New Zealand's trade interests will not be adversely affected as a result of the Brexit vote, he said after a meeting at the weekend.

Trade Minister Todd McClay

Trade Minister Todd McClay Photo: BEEHIVE.GOVT.NZ

Mr McClay met Europe's top trade official Cecelia Malmstrom and UK minister of state for trade and investment Lord Price at a G20 trade ministers meeting in Shanghai at the weekend.

The meeting took place a fortnight after the UK voted to leave the European Union by 52 percent to 48 percent in a referendum.

Mr McClay said Ms Malmstrom confirmed New Zealand remained on track to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the EU.

He said he sought, and received, assurances New Zealand would be involved in any discussions between the EU and Britain in relation to anything involving this country's trade.

He expressed interest to Lord Price in negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with Britain once it was in a position to do so.

Ms Malmstrom, the EU trade commissioner, has said the UK would become a "third country" in EU terms after Brexit.

This meant trade would be carried out based on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules until a new deal was complete, she told the BBC following the referendum vote.

A recent trade deal with Canada took seven years to negotiate and will require ratification by all EU countries - adding another one to two years before it takes effect.

The commissioner said Britain's new trading relationship with the EU should not start until after the process of leaving politically, under an Article 50 process lasting up to two years.

Under EU law, the bloc cannot negotiate a separate trade deal with one of its own members, hence the commissioner's insistence that the UK must first leave.

A demonstrator wrapped in a European flag leaves an anti-Brexit protest in Trafalgar Square in central London, 28 June 20016.

A demonstrator wrapped in a European flag leaving an anti-Brexit protest in Trafalgar Square, London on 28 June. The rally took place five days after the UK voted to leave the EU. Photo: AFP

- RNZ / BBC

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