Free trade agreement a priority as NZ joins UN Security Council

New Zealand’s successful bid for a seat on the UN Security Council will be welcomed by the business sector, which has identified more free trade agreements (FTAs) as a priority for the Government in a survey conducted by Grant Thornton New Zealand.

81% of New Zealand business leaders and executives surveyed believed free trade agreements would best aid the growth of the country.

Speaking after the ballot for five new non-permanent Security Council members, New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said membership would provide an opportunity to discuss trade and economic relationships with other member countries.

Grant Thornton New Zealand Partner and National Director, Tax, Greg Thompson says the five permanent members (China, France, Russia, UK and the US) are large markets, but some of the non-permanent members are also important to New Zealand.

He says New Zealand has been negotiating an agreement with Russia and its Customs Union partners Belarus and Kazakhstan since 2010, and has been in negotiations towards an FTA with Korea, the world's 15th-largest economy, since 2009.

However, Greg Thompson says Security Council membership will not help advance all of New Zealand’s FTA aspirations.

“Since 2010 New Zealand has been negotiating with India, where there is big demand from industry for raw materials and intermediate products, and from the growing middle class for goods and services.

“India was a non-permanent member of the Security Council until 2012 and, while it has said it deserves to be a permanent member, will not be back as a non-permanent member until 2021 at the earliest.”

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