New Zealand PM pushes for EU trade deal

  • Tuesday 17, April 2018 in 10:32 AM
  • New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Sharjah24 – AFP: New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday pushed for a "progressive" free-trade agreement with the European Union in the coming months, while saying British ideas about turning the Commonwealth into a trading platform were a "longer run aspiration".
"I believe an EU-New Zealand FTA presents an opportunity to conclude an agreement that is a model for progressive and inclusive trade," Ardern said after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
New Zealand mainly exports agricultural products to the bloc, which could agree as early as May to open negotiations having decided to fast-track the process last year. 
Both Ardern and Macron said the talks would take into account environmental and social concerns while being "mutually beneficial".
"Some of the concerns being raised domestically in New Zealand will be similar to the ones raised in France," Ardern said in reference to potential resistance from French and European farmers.
"Our goal is a model that will demonstrate to the public that we want to deliver free-trade agreements that can benefit and be prosperous for both our citizens."
Ardern said she would pursue an EU deal along with separate trade talks with Britain, which is leaving the European Union next March and is seeking to negotiate its own agreements.
"It's really a matter of sequencing," Ardern told AFP in an interview at the end of the French leg of her Europe tour which will see her travel to Berlin and London. "For us, we would see both as being incredibly important."
Britain accounts for about one third of the 15 billion dollars of annual trade between the EU and New Zealand, Ardern said. 
The British government is hoping a summit of leaders from the 53 members of the Commonwealth on Thursday and Friday, which Ardern will attend, will boost business with its historic partners.