New Zealand ‘ready and willing’ for post-Brexit trade deal with UK

In a BBC interview, Jacinda Ardern revealed she had spoken “many times” to ministers in Theresa May’s Government about building new commercial links between the two nations after Britain’s departure from the EU.

Her remarks were being seen last night as another boost to the UK’s prospects on quitting the bloc next year.

Asked about progress on a New Zealand-UK trade deal on the Radio 4 Today programme, Ms Arden said: “We of course multitask, so there is a lot on our plate but it is a significant priority.

“We have certainly put our hands up.”

“We know that the priority from the UK’s perspective is of course the Brexit negotiations themselves.

“But beyond that we are here, ready and waiting and really willing to model what those future trading agreements from the UK’s perspective could look like. So when you are ready we are.”

The Kiwi premier added: “We have said we are a willing and waiting partner many times.”

Ms Arden admitted being concerned that a backlash against economic globalisation meant many voters around the world were becoming more sceptical about the benefits of international free trade than they had been in the past.

She said: “Speaking more generally, I’m very mindful of the fact that there has been an increasing scepticism about free trade agreements amid an increasing sense of financial insecurity.

“And some people blame globalisation for that.

“Perhaps we could say that may have bubbled up and at least have become part of the conversation.

“What I have observed, at least form a distance, around Brexit.”

“What we want to demonstrate is that actually trade agreements should be modelled on the values you have as a nation  – so we want to be progressive and inclusive.”

Britain is currently banned from agreeing bilateral trade deals with other countries because of its membership of the EU.

The restriction is expected to continue during a post-Brexit transition period of up to two years, when the UK will remain part of the EU’s customs union.

But ministers hope to negotiate and sign a string of deals with countries around the world during the transition period which can come into force once the transition is over.