New Zealand should scrap EU agricultural talks in favour of trade with post-Brexit Britain, says Kiwi MP

'Once the UK exits the European Union, a trade deal between New Zealand and the UK should be ready to go immediately'

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The Independent Online

New Zealand should be looking to build agricultural trade links with post-Brexit Britain rather than starting planned negotiations with the European Union, an influential lawmaker has said.

On Tuesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will meet to discuss bilateral trade negotiations, which could start in the coming months.

But Fletcher Tabuteau, a trade spokesperson from the anti-immigration New Zealand First party, says his country's premier should be talking to London to avoid "deep trouble" with the competitive European agricultural lobby and EU bureaucracy.

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He said: "Any deal with New Zealand would not only have to negotiate the current triple-lock of the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and European Parliament, but negotiations will also have to include 27 national parliaments, and at least five regional and linguistic parliaments in Belgium and at least five upper chambers.

“Given the all-powerful European farmer lobby likes New Zealand like a hole in the back of the head, our deal with EU isn’t going to go very far, very fast.

“New Zealand has already started the conversation with the United Kingdom over trade deals, and New Zealand First believes this should be a priority. Once the UK exits the European Union, a trade deal between New Zealand and the UK should be ready to go immediately."

Mr Tabateu was referring to a recent non-binding opinion issued by the European Court of Justice following a deal between the EU and Singapore. The ECJ suggested future trade deals between the EU and external parties might need to be ratified by a range of 38 national and regional parliaments. 

Alongside the upcoming talks in Brussels, New Zealand has agreed to commence regular talks with Britain as they prepare to negotiate trrade

New Zealand First currently holds 10 of the 121 seats in the the Kiwi parliament. With a strong Maori base, it has historically been an important power-broker in coalition governments.

The populist, laissez-faire conservatives are currently in opposition to a coalition built around Mr English's centre-right National party.