Xinhua | 8 March 2018
New Zealand explores free trade agreement with South America
New Zealand is interested in strengthening economic ties with the Mercosur trading bloc, a South American regional economic organization, Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker said on Thursday.
Parker made the statement after he visited Paraguay, the current president of Mercosur, on March 6-7. He held talks with Paraguay’s agricultural officials and foreign minister. He also held a working lunch with Paraguay’s new generation of leaders to discuss sustainable economic growth.
"As part of my visit I registered with Paraguay New Zealand’s desire to begin exploratory discussions with the Mercosur trading bloc," Parker said, adding these exploratory discussions would identify joint interests and strengthen New Zealand’s understanding of the benefits of a potential free trade agreement.
"An agreement with Mercosur could contribute to New Zealand’s track record of comprehensive and high quality free trade agreements," Parker said, adding there is also considerable potential to use a trade agreement to enhance cooperation across a range of important areas, including agriculture, labor and environmental standards.
A New Zealand-Mercosur agreement would also send an important signal about the value on a strong, rules-based international trading system, the minister said.
Taken as a whole, Mercosur countries, which include Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and other associated and observer countries, have a combined GDP of 2.42 trillion U.S. dollars. New Zealand and Mexico are Mercosur’s only two observer countries.