UPDATED: Britain's new trade minister, Liz Truss, is making a surprise visit to Wellington today to hold talks with the Government about a post-Brexit trade deal.

"As the UK prepares to leave the EU on 31 October, we look forward to taking back control of our trade policy and negotiating new free trade agreements," said Truss, the International Trade Secretary.

"I am visiting some of our most like-minded trade partners this week to send a clear message: the UK is an open, welcoming business destination and we are ready to trade.

"There is massive political willingness from our trading partners to negotiate ambitious new trade agreements that will benefit people throughout the whole of the UK. We look forward to beginning negotiations shortly."


Truss said the UK Government was strongly committed to securing "ambitious and high quality free trade agreements with New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the US, as well as potentially joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)."

She will also visit Australia and Japan.

Truss will hold talks with Trade Minister David Parker, whom she met in London, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters who is back in Wellington after a long recuperation from a knee operation, and Opposition leader Simon Bridges.

During opening remarks with Parker at the Beehive this morning, said New Zealand and Britain had such similar institutions that he anticipated being able to make quick progress towards a new trade relationship "if and when the United Kingdom exits the European Union."

UK trade minister and David Parker before their talks at the Beehive today. Photo / Audrey Young
UK trade minister and David Parker before their talks at the Beehive today. Photo / Audrey Young

Parker said one of the issues on the agenda were tariff rate quotas (how quota on various products currently set by the European Union and including the UK will be split under two separate markets), and how to ensure that New Zealand would be no worse off.

The EU and Britain have both begun processes at the World Trade Organisation aimed at lowering their respective quotas, and New Zealand has lodged a formal claim of interest over them, as well as having bilateral talks over it.

Truss and Parker met in London in July, and he was the first trade minister she met after getting the job when Boris Johnson became Conservative leader and Prime Minister.

She said New Zealand was a "huge priority" in terms of the UK delivering on a new free trade agenda.


"We are going to be leaving the European Union on the 31st of October, with or without a deal and as part of that agenda, striking trade deals much more broadly than we have been doing, is going to be vitally important. "

She said the UK was going to have its first independent trade policy for the first time in 45 years.

"I'm a huge admirer in the way New Zealand has led the world in terms of opening up trade with partners across the globe."

She wanted to learn from New Zealand's experience and opening up to trade but also look at the timetable and the areas of negotiation.

"Striking a free trade deal with New Zealand is a very important priority for the UK. It is one of the first trade deals we expect to strike.
"We have already held a consultation with the British public which got a very very strong positive response, so we are almost ready to start those negotiations."

Asked about tariff rate quotas she said she believed the rates set out were fair but they would be discussed further at the WTO.

"But the free trade agreement that we are poised to commence negotiating will see a better deal for both the UK and New Zealand and I'm very keen to progress on to that."

She said the other priority countries for a free trade deal and on which there had been consultations were Australia and the United States.

"But I can reassure everybody in this room that we've already mapped out our resources and we have considerable resourced devoted towards New Zealand making sure we have enough resources to get that negotiation to happen."

Boris Johnson is due to visit later today Luxembourg to meet EU Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, in an effort to change the withdrawal agreement reached with former Prime Minister Theresa May.

Liz Truss helping out with apple harvest on a Norfol orchard. Photo / Liz Truss Twitter
Liz Truss helping out with apple harvest on a Norfol orchard. Photo / Liz Truss Twitter