International

UK agrees trade deal with New Zealand

The UK is continuing to develop its Asia-Pacific focus by agreeing a free trade agreement (FTA) with New Zealand, which reflects the importance of market access for professional services in both economies, solicitors’ leaders said today.

“Just over two months after the UK signed an FTA with Australia, we are delighted to see further opportunities to build business across borders with our colleagues in New Zealand,” said Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce.

“The UK-New Zealand FTA commits to liberalising services in a way that strengthens existing bilateral relations and deepens market access, making it easier for professionals like lawyers to operate in each other’s economies.

“Professional services and mechanisms to facilitate further recognition of professional qualifications are also outlined in the agreement.

“The Professional Services Annex confirms existing rights of UK and New Zealand lawyers to advise clients in their home-country and international law and to provide arbitration, mediation and conciliation services in the other country’s territory using their original qualifications and title.

“The agreement also establishes a legal services regulatory dialogue, which will help relevant legal bodies to facilitate a route for requalification that’s transparent and proportionate.

“It will also encourage greater collaboration and knowledge-sharing on regulatory matters and wider issues affecting trade in legal services.

“UK workers will benefit from improved business travel arrangements and professionals such as lawyers will be able to work in New Zealand more easily, allowing UK companies to set up shop with the best British talent to grow a sophisticated international legal market across both jurisdictions.”

The agreement includes a domestic regulation chapter – a first in New Zealand and UK FTA practices – reflecting both countries’ support for ambitious rules building on those currently under development in World Trade Organisation negotiations.*

I. Stephanie Boyce added: “As with any trade negotiations, many barriers to trade in legal services are ‘behind the border’ and are not covered by FTAs.

“New Zealand and the UK’s domestic regulation chapter reflects a commitment to seeking to address such barriers, providing businesses with greater certainty and transparency.

“However, it will be vital there is further cooperation to advance seamless cross-border provision of legal services. In this respect, the proposed regulatory dialogue between relevant authorities in the legal sectors of both countries could be a great benefit to the profession.

“We look forward to contributing to discussions on improving smoother trade in legal services with key bodies, including the New Zealand Law Society, and welcome the clear framework proposed under the FTA with New Zealand to further this opportunity.”

Notes to editors

Read the UK-New Zealand free trade agreement

 * The domestic regulation chapter reflects both countries’ support for the Joint initiative on Services Domestic Regulation and will see both countries commit to operating impartial, transparent and responsive regulatory systems that will not be used to create unnecessary barriers to trade.

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