Prime Minister Bill English and his British counterpart Theresa May have penned a joint op-ed - speaking of their determination to "open a new and exciting chapter" in the UK-NZ relationship.

The article has been published in The Times newspaper ahead of English's meeting with May in London tonight (NZ time).

The leaders say that, as Britain prepares to leave the European Union, "we are determined to open a new and exciting chapter in the close friendship between our two countries".

That will involve working towards a "bold" new UK-NZ Free Trade Agreement. And, while the UK is part of the EU, it will continue to support an EU-NZ FTA.

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"And we will seize the opportunity of next year's Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London to reinvigorate the Commonwealth with an ambitious agenda for growing trade within it."

English and May note a growing protectionist sentiment amongst some countries.

"But trade is essential to our countries' way of life, our standard of living, and our potential to become more prosperous," the article states.

"Together as two confident nations, twelve time zones and twelve thousand miles apart in our geography but side by side in our values, we are committed to driving further links between our countries in the years ahead."

Full op-ed by Bill English and Theresa May

As Britain leaves the European Union and seizes the opportunity to embrace the world and forge stronger relations with old allies and new partners alike, so we are determined to open a new and exciting chapter in the close friendship between our two countries.

That is why we are meeting in London today, just one month into Prime Minister English's term in New Zealand, to shape this opportunity from the outset and to discuss how we can work together to ensure our security and prosperity in an ever more uncertain world.

We have inspiring foundations on which to build. While many countries assert great friendships, few can point to a history like ours. For over a hundred years, our men and women have stood and fought side by side in the defence of our freedoms and our way of life. From Gallipoli, the Somme and Passchendaele to Sir Keith Park, whose leadership was pivotal in the Battle of Britain, Kiwis and Brits are honoured and remembered for their service together and that service continues right through to the fight against Al Qaeda and Daesh today.

This afternoon we will be discussing how we can enhance our co-operation in the battle against global terrorism, including through our intelligence sharing under the Five Eyes alliance, and our leadership in countering violent extremism, where we are working bilaterally to deliver training programmes in South East Asia, and multilaterally to build support for tackling the root causes of the terrorist threat internationally, including through the United Nations.

We will also be discussing how we can lead the way by creating new global opportunities that will deliver growing prosperity for all our people. As leaders, we share a profound belief in the power of free trade and open markets as great drivers of economic progress - creating more jobs and lifting incomes in both countries.

So for as long as the UK is part of the EU, we will continue to work together in support of an EU-New Zealand trade deal and look forward to formal negotiations on a comprehensive and ambitious agreement beginning as soon as possible. And we will seize the opportunity of next year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London to reinvigorate the Commonwealth with an ambitious agenda for growing trade within it.

We will also use the freedoms and flexibilities that come as individual nation states negotiating directly to expand our existing bilateral trade. The UK is New Zealand's fifth largest export market, while UK firms have significant trade and investment ties with NZ.

The UK is a crucial market for New Zealand, for high quality food and drink to cutting edge services and manufacturing and more. New Zealand is an important market for UK firms exporting everything from cars and buses, to pharmaceuticals and financial services. And our shared approach to ensuring regulation facilitates rather than impedes trade and commerce ensures our countries are two of the best in the world for businesses to set up and grow.

We are determined to do everything possible to build on this foundation and expand our bilateral trade and investment. This includes work underway now through our new UK-New Zealand trade policy dialogue. And, by starting early discussions in due course on a bold new UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, our relationship will be stronger than ever.

Free trade and globalisation have made a vital contribution to lifting millions out of poverty, creating wealth and lifting incomes and increasing consumer choice. This has been key not just to our own prosperity and security, but to that of all our allies and partners around the world. And we must ensure the benefits of growth are widely shared, to ensure a just and equal society where no one is left behind.

Recent years have seen growing protectionist sentiment amongst some - but trade is essential to our countries' way of life, our standard of living, and our potential to become more prosperous. Rather than shy away from trade, our Governments are committed to ensuring the benefits are spread widely - by raising wages for lower-income families, by ensuring multi-nationals pay their fair share of tax, and by pursuing social reform to actively support those in need.

Together as two confident nations, twelve time zones and twelve thousand miles apart in our geography but side by side in our values, we are committed to driving further links between our countries in the years ahead.