New Zealand FTA: Environment

Business and Trade – in the House of Commons at on 2 May 2024.

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Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Transport), Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

Whether she has made an assessment of the potential impact of New Zealand’s proposed Fast-track Approvals Bill on its obligations under the UK-New Zealand free trade agreement environment chapter.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Party Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)

In March, the UK and New Zealand highlighted the importance of our environmental commitments at the first ever environment committee under our new free trade agreement. We continue to engage with New Zealand on implementing the environmental chapter, and will monitor the proposed Bill that the hon. Lady mentioned during its passage through New Zealand’s Parliament.

Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Transport), Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

The New Zealand FTA entered into force on 31 May 2023. It contains a commitment in article 22 that each party will not

“waive or otherwise derogate from, or offer to waive or otherwise derogate from, its environmental laws in a manner that weakens or reduces the protection afforded in that law”.

Is there not a danger that the fast-track approvals will erode those protections? What steps will the Government take to ensure that New Zealand absolutely upholds its commitments under the FTA?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Party Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)

As I said, we will continue to monitor the passage of that proposed legislation, but the hon. Lady must recognise that the UK and New Zealand are incredibly like-minded in these areas—on climate, the environment and clean growth. The environment chapter in our free trade agreement is one of the most ambitious in any FTA anywhere in the world. It breaks new ground for both the UK and New Zealand in supporting our shared climate and environmental goals, clean growth, and the transition to a net zero economy.