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Commonwealth trade deal ‘long way off’ – Minister

Article – RNZ

Any possible Commonwealth free trade deal is a long way off, Trade Minister David Parker says.Any possible Commonwealth free trade deal is a long way off, Trade Minister David Parker says.

Minister of Economic Development David Parker. Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

The idea was raised during discussions at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Europe last week.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said at the time there was excitement at the prospect of such a deal, comments that were backed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

David Parker said it was clear the Commonwealth leaders agree there should be closer economic ties between all those nations.

“We’re more focused in the interim of course on securing a free trade agreement with Europe, which we’re making steady progress towards them starting negotiations, getting the mandate to start on their side.

“And of course have other negotiating priorities with China.”

Mr Peters also made controversial comments last week that New Zealand could look to trade with North Korea, but Mr Parker said that comment was “tongue in cheek”.

“I think he says that almost in jest … Winston Peters well knows we have zero trade with North Korea.”

He said Mr Peters was diplomatic in how he spoke of other countries, but had not spoken to him on the subject.

He also said he had not ruled out an exemption for Singapore from proposed regulations restricting residential property purchases by non-residents.

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