UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is champing at the bit to sign a free trade agreement with New Zealand, says Jacinda Ardern.

The Prime Minister spoke to Johnson late last night and told Newstalk ZB this morning that Johnson's enthusiasm had been "very positive".

"I was almost surprised by how eager he was to press on with talks between New Zealand and the UK towards a free trade agreement," she told Mike Hosking.

Talks could start as soon as Brexit is resolved, though when that might be is still unknown.


"Signing the deal is of course down to our negotiators, but he wants to start talks pretty much straight away, he tells me," Ardern said.

"We're also ready to go when they are. The question for us is simply when their negotiating teams will be ready."

Johnson hopes that the EU will agree to a new Brexit deal, but has also said that the UK will leave the EU at the end of October without one.

The UK is New Zealand's fifth largest food and beverage export market (worth $1.6 billion in 2017), with the biggest exports being meat ($479 million), wine ($390 million) and fresh fruit ($102 million).

Government officials have been negotiating with the UK and the EU with the aim of leaving New Zealand no worse off, regardless of what happens with Brexit.

The UK and New Zealand have already signed agreements to ensure that current trading arrangements can continue.

Ardern said she and Johnson also discussed the New Zealand Government's attempts to shut down violent extremism and online terrorist content.

"We also discussed next steps in the Christchurch Call and ending terrorist content online, climate change and other issues of shared interest, as well as getting an update on UK's progress on Brexit.


"We both agreed we wanted to catch up in person at the United Nations meeting in September and I hope we can make that happen."

When Johnson became UK Prime Minister last month, Ardern exchanged text messages with him.

"Mr Johnson is familiar with New Zealand in his former role as foreign secretary and has an excellent relationship with our foreign minister that I am sure will be mutually beneficial for our countries," Ardern said after the text exchange.