Speech: PM press conference with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English: 13 January 2017

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War Hero
I am delighted to welcome Prime Minister English to Downing Street so soon after he has taken office.

The UK and New Zealand have long been close friends and firm allies. And our strong ties are rooted in our shared values and a deep history.

For over a hundred years, our men and women have stood together to defend our freedoms and way of life – from Gallipoli, the Somme and Passchendaele to Sir Keith Park’s leadership in the Battle of Britain.

As the UK leaves the EU and forges a new role in the world, we want to strengthen relations with partners like New Zealand.

So today we have talked about Brexit and the opportunity it presents to deepen our bilateral ties – increasing our trade relationship and continuing our close security co-operation.

I’d like to say a few words on each.

Brexit


First, on Brexit. I have updated the Prime Minister on the work we are doing to prepare for leaving the EU.

We will trigger Article 50 before the end of March. And next week I will set out more on our objectives for those negotiations – how we will work to get the right deal for Britain and embark on a new constructive partnership with the European Union that makes sense for us all.

Trade and investment


We have also talked about trade. Our 2 countries enjoy a strong and growing trading relationship, worth over £3 billion last year.

The UK is New Zealand’s fifth largest bilateral trading partner. And we are the second largest foreign investor there.

As 2 island nations, we know that trade is essential to the prosperity of our countries. And so it is natural that we share a firm, deep-rooted belief in the power of free trade and open markets to drive economic progress, and the importance of ensuring the benefits of growth are shared widely and fairly.

While the UK remains in the EU, we will work together to support an EU-New Zealand trade deal and we will also look to the future and how we can expand our trade and investment partnership.

Through our new bilateral trade dialogue, we will push for greater global trade liberalisation and reform, share expertise and identify ways to strengthen our own trading relationship. And the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, will visit New Zealand in the coming months to launch these important talks.

In the longer term, we agree on the potential for a bold new UK-New Zealand free trade agreement, and I look forward to starting early discussions on this in due course.

Security and defence


We have also talked about the different threats our countries face and how we can work together to keep our people safe.

At the UN Security Council, our countries have stood together – securing a landmark resolution on aviation security which is galvanising international action to improve protections at airports around the world and to focus support on countries vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

On Syria, we welcome the fragile ceasefire agreed last month. It is vital that Russia and Turkey use their influence to ensure the ceasefire is fully implemented and so create the right conditions for talks in Astana later this month.

We support these efforts to return to negotiations because the only way to end this terrible conflict is to achieve transition to a genuine and inclusive political settlement.

We have also discussed our joint efforts to tackle global threats, including through our intelligence sharing under the Five Eyes alliance.

Finally, as committed members of the Commonwealth, we will support efforts to reinvigorate the organisation.

The UK is looking forward to hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting next year, with an ambitious agenda to shape the organisation’s priorities in the years ahead and to strengthen its core values of democracy, peace and prosperity for all people.

Conclusion


And to conclude, we have had an excellent first meeting today.

We may be many miles apart in our geography, but our countries are side by side in our values, and I look forward to working closely with Prime Minister English in the years ahead to strengthen the ties we share.

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