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Britain and New Zealand sign free trade agreement

LONDON/WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Britain and New Zealand have reached a preliminary agreement on a free trade agreement to cut tariffs, improve trade and bring London closer to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sealed the deal on Wednesday after 16 months of negotiations.

“This is an excellent trade deal for the UK, strengthening our longstanding friendship with New Zealand and strengthening our relationship with the Indo-Pacific,” Boris Johnson said in a statement.

Jacinda Ardern said that all tariffs on all products between the two countries will be eliminated and the vast majority, 97%, of them will be removed on the day the trade agreement enters into force.

The deal comes just months after a similar deal between Britain and Australia, as British ministers seek to wean themselves off trade dependence on the European Union.

The ministers consider this another step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which brings together Japan, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, Chile and Malaysia, and removes 95% of tariffs among its members.

Joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership has become Britain’s main trading objective after Brexit as prospects for a quick and comprehensive deal with the United States fade. Britain hopes to become a member by the end of 2022.

(Report by William James and Pravin Menon, French version by Camille Raynaud)

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