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NZW calls on UK to come with “fresh attitude” as trade negotiations begin

Published:  17 June, 2020

New Zealand’s wine sector has “warmly welcomed” the announcement that it is to begin trade negotiations with the UK, calling on Britain to come with a “fresh attitude”. 

The negotiations, aimed at reaching a “high quality, comprehensive and inclusive agreement”, were a “great opportunity” for both countries, said New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW), adding it anticipates “mutual advantage”.  

With independence from the European Union, the UK now had a chance to “look afresh at its trade rules, and make sure it is doing the best by its businesses and consumers”, said Jeffrey Clarke, general manager advocacy & general counsel at NZW.

The UK currently sits at an “exciting crossroads”, he added.

“Wine trade with the UK is currently hampered by costly, pointless EU certifications and complex rules erected to protect EU wineries. The UK now has a chance to sweep away those barriers and enhance its status as a global wine trade hub.”

Beyond wine trade, Clarke said he also sees scope for the UK to “walk the talk” in demonstrating that it wants to be a leader in open global trade, adding “this is a difficult time for world trade, but history tells us that protectionism hurts everyone”.  

“We would like to see the UK step up and show its leadership in trading without barriers, joining agreements like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans Pacific Partnership, and participating in innovative trade bodies like the World Wine Trade Group,” he said.

NZW would be watching the start of the negotiation with "some trepidation", he said, noting that the current FTA negotiations with the EU had been “disappointing”. 

“Their opening ask on Geographical Indications was pretty extreme, and suggests they are not really that interested in being flexible. We will be crossing our fingers that our UK friends will be coming with a fresh attitude, and a willingness to consider powerful modern approaches to simplifying trade, like mutual recognition.”

Wine is now the most valuable Kiwi export to the UK – accounting for over 30% of the value of all New Zealand exports to the UK, and providing high quality jobs and over $440m of income for it wine regions in 2019.

In February, NZW announced wine exports from the country increased 8% in 2019 reaching a record value of $1.86bn.