Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has met his British counterpart Rishi Sunak for the first time in person ahead of King Charles III’s coronation.
Sunak walked out of his 10 Downing St address to greet Hipkins ahead of a meeting consisting of a range of topics in which New Zealand and Britain have mutual interests.
Speaking to media after their meeting, Hipkins said the relationship between New Zealand and the UK is the best it’s been in a long time.
“The entry into force of the UK Free Trade Agreement [FTA] clearly is a very significant milestone for that relationship and the future opportunities within that relationship,” he said.
Ahead of their meeting today, Hipkins and Sunak announced New Zealand’s FTA with Britain will come into force at the end of this month.
“Trade has been a sticking point in the New Zealand-UK relationship for decades … I think having this free trade agreement coming into force will be so welcomed for New Zealand exporters.
“Yesterday’s announcement of an effective date for the UK-New Zealand FTA was probably one of the most significant outcomes I was looking for from my visit to the UK. I’m really encouraged by that because it is such a huge opportunity for New Zealand and New Zealand business,” said Hipkins.
He said New Zealand’s continuing support of Ukraine was not discussed in the meeting.
“New Zealand will continue to discuss and continue to engage in how best we can support Ukraine in their battle. We think it’s important and we absolutely support the people of Ukraine in their fight.”
He said the conversation with Sunak was “very positive”.
Hipkins made sure to take some Watties tomato sauce to the meeting as Sunak had a tray of sausage rolls prepared for him.
Yesterday, Hipkins was all smiles as he met with King Charles ahead of this weekend’s coronation – and was also gifted a tray of sausage rolls from the monarch.
Hipkins said they had shared conversations about a range of issues affecting New Zealand as a country and the Kiwi public; including the recovery effort after Cyclone Gabrielle.
“The King’s been closely following the recovery from the flooding and the cyclone and so he had wanted to talk about that – and that led into a broader conversation about climate change.
“The King has a really active interest in New Zealand, having been a regular visitor to New Zealand, and I’m sure he’ll intend to continue to be a regular visitor in the future,” said Hipkins.
Leave a Reply