UK signed its trade deal with New Zealand 4 months ago — beating the EU’s years of talks

Graham Charles Lear
4 min readJul 2, 2022

Once again I expose the EU’s misinformation and propaganda.

UK-NZ negotiations were launched on 17 June 2020 and concluded on 28 February 2022–20 months from start to finish. Below I show the true timeline for the EU’s efforts.

Thursday 30 June the EU announced that a free trade agreement had been concluded with New Zealand. It now has to go through a ratification process with all EU27 parliaments plus the EU parliament, which typically takes over a year.

On the EU Commission’s website, it states that “Negotiations began in June 2018”. They are deliberately telling lies, Below I present the real timeline.

The EU’s talks with New Zealand

  • ‘Political deal 2007
  • ‘Agreement to negotiate trade deal 2015
  • ‘Scoping discussions’ started in 2016
  • Negotiations did not start until 2018
  • Trade deal agreed in principle: 30 June 2022
  • Expected ratification and entering into force: 2024

[ Sources: EU Commission and New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Dept (MFAT) ]

these are real facts for readers

The EU failed to negotiate a trade deal with New Zealand for decades. They first signed a ‘political declaration’ with New Zealand back in 2007 — that’s 15 years ago.

On 30 October 2015 — almost seven years ago — the then NZ Prime Minister John Key had to fly 11,600 miles to Brussels to meet the then EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to get things started on a trade deal but then had to be patient.

This was only the start of a long and tortuous process. Back in 2015, Radio New Zealand described the move as “inching closer to a free trade deal”. They were not wrong — inching was the right word to use.

The EU Commission were very slow and ineffective — until the UK voted to leave in 2016

It was distinctly noticeable that after the Leave vote in 2016 the EU Commission finally started to do something about trade deals.

The EU Commission has the sole right to negotiate trade deals — the United Kingdom was unable to do so, nor could any other EU country. I have been highlighting the EU Commission’s failures to do any serious trade deals, for years, long before we had the referendum, suddenly after the Referendum, the Commission was talking about nothing else.

Here is what the EU Commission itself says

“Trade outside the EU is an exclusive responsibility of the EU, rather than the national governments of member countries. This means the EU institutions make laws on trade matters, and negotiate and conclude international trade agreements.

“The EU’s responsibilities cover:

  • Trade-in goods and services;
  • The commercial aspects of intellectual property, such as patents;
  • Public procurement, and;
  • Foreign direct investment.”

The EU Commission could not manage to do a trade deal with the United States — the world’s largest economy — even when the strongly Europhile US President Barack Obama was in charge.

Despite Brexit’ and ‘despite Covid-19’ Brexit Britain beat the EU to it

In a fraction of the time the EU has taken to do a trade deal with New Zealand, Brexit Britain has stormed ahead.

The UK agreed to a trade deal with New Zealand in just 20 months. The EU has taken more than 15 years. The UK-NZ trade agreement was agreed on 28 February — four months before the EU’s, despite having started less than two years ago. The Bill was introduced in the NZ parliament on 22 June. It will not be opposed.

The United Kingdom now has trade agreements in place with 67 countries, according to the last update from the Dept for International Trade in May (2022).

The simple fact is that the EU’s lumbering and stumbling steps in trade negotiations have been legendary for years.

The claim that the EU has more free trade agreements (FTAs) than anyone else is not true. Most of the agreements it has managed to conclude are not FTAs at all. Rather they are various forms of ‘association’ or ‘partnership’ agreements.

One of the problems has been the Commission’s insistence on including clauses which are political in nature. Examples of this include clauses about ‘climate change, ‘sustainable development, and ‘gender equality.

Brexit benefits

Many in the United Kingdom have been disappointed in the slow progress in delivering many of the Brexit benefits that were expected. The Government’s preoccupation with Covid over the past two years has been used as a reason for why this is. Bit by bit, though, this finally seems to be changing. Nevertheless, any possibility of actually controlling our borders still seems some way off.

One area that has seen steady progress is the work of the new Department for International Trade. Not only have they successfully ‘rolled over the various types of trade deals that the UK had as part of the EU, but they have also been concluding new and full FTAs.

An example of this is the UK’s FTA agreed with New Zealand back in February, beating the EU handsomely despite not officially being able to start until 01 January 2021.

Sources: New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Dept (MFAT) | DIT | EU Commission

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.