Whether or not Brexit is good for the UK is still moot, but it has led to a free trade agreement with New Zealand which is good for New Zealand.
Trade negotiator Charles Finny writes :
. . . If you had told me 10 years ago that New Zealand would on 21 October 2021 announce agreement in principle on a comprehensive high quality free trade agreement with the UK, and that agreement, over time, would lead to full free trade in beef, lamb and dairy products, I would have asked what you had been smoking or drinking. . .
We have to wait 15 years for some of the more sensitive agriculture products to reach full free trade but that will be worth the wait. Beef, lamb and dairy products will enjoy progressively larger duty free access to the UK from year one. Ninety-seven percent of New Zealand’s existing exports go duty free on entry into force. . .
All up, the Government is claiming that the agreement will boost New Zealand’s GDP by $1 billion. I am sceptical of such claims – usually high quality agreements such as this deliver far greater impacts than it is possible to model. . .
The UK’s entry to the European Union in 1973 had a serious impact on our trade.
It wasn’t all bad though, it forced us to diversify our markets which is sensible. However, in recent years we have become very, many would say overly, reliant on China.
The deal announced yesterday allows us much better access to the UK than we’ve had for decades which will be good for consumers and exporters on both sides of the agreement.
Their farmers will be worried but they have five years until cheese and butter are fully liberalised and 15 years until beef and sheep meat are fully liberalised.
Those who are fearful could learn from what happened here when we were forced to face the real and unprotected world of trade in the 1980s.
Instead of producing what the government subsidised us to produce, we had to provide what markets wanted. Farmers, and the wider economy, are stronger and more sustainable as a result of that.
This deal is a welcome reversal of the protectionism that has increased since Covid-19 spread and a reminder that the only really fair trade is free trade.