Brits could be in line for cheaper wine as the UK government said “good progress” is being made in efforts to secure a free trade deal with New Zealand.
According to Trade Secretary Liz Truss, her team is working to finalise an agreement with the Commonwealth country “in the coming weeks”.
A post-Brexit free trade deal could see prices lowered on New Zealand wine, including Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, which currently face tariffs of up to 20p per bottle.
The price of apples and Manuka honey could also be slashed, with more than £42 million of the fruit imported from New Zealand in 2020 and more than £32 million of honey brought in, despite coming with tariffs of eight per cent and 16 per cent respectively.
The associated tariffs could be wiped out as part of a free trade agreement, the government said.
Officials said “good progress” had been made following the end of the sixth round of trade talks with Wellington last month as confidence grew about striking a deal.
The Department for International Trade talked up what fresh trading terms could mean for British exporters, suggesting they could “gain an advantage over international rivals in the New Zealand import market”, which is expected to grow by 30 per cent by 2030.
British-made products such as Beefeater gin and Belvoir soft drinks currently face a tariff of five per cent when entering New Zealand, as do products from chocolate to cheese and crisps.
The figures follows a survey by consumer group Which? found that more than two-thirds of the UK public feel “left in the dark” about the impact that post-Brexit trade deals struck by the government will have.
A quarter of the 3000 consumers who took part in the poll said they felt the government was “not at all open” about the impact new trade deals will have – a finding ministers seem keen to reverse with its latest assessment of the potential benefits of a future New Zealand deal.
It also follows criticism being levelled at the government’s trade deal agreed with Australia, with British farmers predicting it could see them undercut by imported produce that does not match the same standards as UK-grown produce.
“We are working round the clock to get this deal done in the coming weeks,” Truss said.
“We are both big fans of each other’s high-quality products, so this could be a huge boost that allows British shoppers to enjoy lower prices and British exports to be even more competitive.
“New Zealand and the UK are natural partners united by modern values.
“An agreement would reflect those ideals and is a win-win for both countries.
“It would also be an important step towards our accession to CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership), helping the UK gain access to 11 of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies across the Pacific region and opening doors to dynamic markets across the world.”
Trade between the UK and New Zealand was worth £2.3 billion last year, according to Government data, with the potential to rise following a bilateral concord, officials said.
Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at the Food and Drink Federation, added: “We hope to see the UK conclude an ambitious trade deal with New Zealand which removes tariffs facing UK exports of quality manufactured food and drink.
“This would provide a welcome boost for producers and exporters of iconic UK products including chocolate, coffee, biscuits and soft drinks, where UK sales in New Zealand are currently £10 million each year.
“Our sector has significant untapped potential for export growth and removing existing tariffs will make UK products more competitive, creating the conditions to drive future growth in New Zealand.”
with PA Wires