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Ardern says NZ wants 'quality over speed' in UK free trade deal after Australia signs its own agreement

"We want quality over speed," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today as New Zealand continues to negotiate for a UK free trade deal while Australia inked its own agreement this week.

Jacinda Ardern. Source: 1 NEWS

"Rushing an agreement, simply to get it over the line isn't in the best interests of our exporters and primary producers," Ardern said. 

"We've spoken openly about the fact there may well be a difference in the completion between us and Australia, and we're all very comfortable with that.

"They're different agreements, with different imperatives, and again, quality is the focus for us."

Australia's FTA would seek to allow more of their citizens to live in the UK, it would give exporters more options and the requirement for British backpackers to do agricultural work prior to visa extensions would be scrapped, according to AAP. 

"Our economies are stronger by these agreements," Australian PM Scott Morrison said. "This is the most comprehensive and ambitious agreement that Australia has concluded."

National's trade spokesperson Todd Muller said the Government had been slow to act on the UK deal. 

"Australia seemed to want it more, acting with urgency and prioritising closing the deal. As a result they’ve come out on top," he said. 

"What we’ve seen from the UK Prime Minister and the Australia Prime Minister is a contagious enthusiasm for what’s possible."

Trade Minister Damien O'Connor is currently travelling to London and the EU to push negotiations, aiming to add political weight to talks. 

British High Commissioner Laura Clarke told Breakfast this morning that New Zealand should expect a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom "absolutely within the year".

Last year, the UK Government estimated a FTA would increase New Zealand's GDP by £500 million (NZ$975 million) at the time, and increase exports to the UK by 40 per cent. 

In 2019, UK trade secretary Liz Truss visited New Zealand, saying "striking a deal with New Zealand is a very important priority for the UK, it’s one of the first trade deals we expect to strike".

"We are going to put the resources that we need to do into that."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern kicked off talks with Britain in 2018 while it was in the midst of leaving the EU, with a FTA on the cards since 2017.  

Just under a year later in January 2019, Ardern once again publicly cemented New Zealand's desire for a free trade agreement with Britain.

Then in August 2019, Ardern spoke to the new British PM Boris Johnson to congratulate him on his appointment and to discuss their commitment to a free trade agreement.