Brexit and NZ

How does Britain’s exit (Brexit) from the European Union (the EU) affect NZ? Perhaps not much but it’s probably too early to say for sure.

The decision of the British voters was a shock to many in Britain, in other EU countries and elsewhere. It affected the global economy and could cause financial problems around the world. Immediately the value of the British pound dropped. This could be good for any New Zealanders planning to visit Britain and for NZ importers of British products. On the other hand, we might expect fewer tourists from Britain in the future if the pound remains low. Another matter is our export trade. Our trade agreements – for meat and dairy products – are with the EU. We sell $2 billion of beef and lamb to the EU which included Britain. We will need to negotiate our trade with Britain and the EU separately. If the divorce from the EU takes more than 2 years, NZ needs to be part of the talks to make sure our interests are considered.

Perhaps more importantly, NZ needs to be concerned that we do not have the same level of dissatisfaction in our society as in Britain. People who voted to leave the EU were angry about inequality – the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer – and they were unhappy about too many immigrants. These voters blamed immigration for low wages and unemployment. They blamed free trade agreements and globalisation for the loss of jobs. Factory jobs have gone to countries with lower wages. Voters were angry about high taxes and multi-national companies which do not pay their fair share of taxes.

John Key said we do not have the same problems here. However, Winston Peters noted that we have high numbers of immigrants at the moment, especially in Auckland.


• elsewhere – other places
• negotiate – discuss and settle an agreement
• dissatisfaction – not happy with a situation, (opposite of satisfaction)
• blame – say it’s the fault of other people
• globalisation – movement of people, trade, ideas, culture etc around the world

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