World

US open to free trade deal with New Zealand

WELLINGTON The United States has indicated that it is open to a free trade agreement (FTA) with New Zealand, New Zealand's Trade Minister said yesterday.

Mr Todd McClay visited Washington for high-level trade talks with the administration of US President Donald Trump, meeting with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, newly-appointed US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other advisers to the president.

"I've welcomed their interest in an FTA as a demonstration of the good shape our trading relationship is in," Mr McClay said.

Mr McClay said his centre-right government wants free trade agreements to cover 90 per cent of goods exported by 2030, up from just over half currently.

Two-way trade between the two countries reached US$16 billion (S$22 billion) last year, making the US New Zealand's third-largest individual trading partner, according to New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

New Zealand's US$180 billion economy depends on exports, and the country lobbied hard in favour of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

New Zealand is trying to negotiate a deal with the 11 remaining countries of the TPP after the US withdrew.

- REUTERS

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