Returning from an official visit to the United States, NZ First leader and Foreign Minister Winston Peters reiterates the significance of pushing for a bilateral free trade agreement with the global economic power.
While much attention had been placed on the controversy surrounding remarks made by U.S. President Donald Trump on social media, Minister Peters insisted that his visit was specifically focused on advancing New Zealand’s economic interests overseas.
He said that the matter of a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the United States had been negotiated as early as 1939, when then-Finance Minister Walter Nash was speaking with U.S. President Roosevelt about that very matter.
It is now 2019 and such bilateral arrangement still does not exist, but the Minister took solace in that old Kiwi saying that “good things take time”.
Mr. Peters argued that a free trade deal will benefit both countries, pointing out the United States’ declining share of trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
When pressed by Morning Report’s Corin Dann on how realistic attaining such a free trade deal is, given the U.S.’ concerns surrounding New Zealand’s Pharmac, the Minister said that these obstacles can be surpassed.
The latter affirmed that New Zealand’s sovereignty will not be compromised in pursuing this deal, highlighting the mutual benefits of free trade to both countries hence it is also in the U.S.’ best interests to take up the offer.
Asked what signal he had been given by his U.S. counterparts regarding the chances of a free trade agreement happening, Minister Peters said it was “very positive”.