House of Commons Library

New Zealand 2018

Published Monday, June 4, 2018

With the drive for new trading opportunities for the UK, relations with Commonwealth countries such as New Zealand are increasingly in the spotlight.

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With the drive for new trading opportunities for the UK, relations with Commonwealth countries such as New Zealand are increasingly in the spotlight.

New Zealand’s political system is a version of the ‘Westminster Model’, but with significant differences from the UK. New Zealand was the first country to give votes to women and has a proportional representation system. There is also a system for reserving seats for Maoris. New Zealand’s Parliament used to be bicameral but since 1951 has only one House.

At the most recent election, no party gained an outright majority in the House of Representatives and, although the National Party received most votes and was the biggest in the House of Representatives, it failed to find a working majority. The result was a coalition between the New Zealand labour Party and New Zealand first, a populist party. That put Labour’s Jacinda Ardern in the Prime Minister’s office, the third female leader in New Zealand and the youngest woman head of government in the world.

The UK has close relations with New Zealand, with security cooperation through the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence community, shared with the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, particularly important. There is also military collaboration both bilaterally and through the Five Powers Defence Arrangement, which groups Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

Even though the New Zealand economy is small, there is potential to enhance trade links with the UK. At present UK exports to New Zealand represent 0.2% of the total. The UK government has promised migration rules for New Zealanders “at least as attractive” as at present, and business leaders have called for a new free trade agreement between the two countries and a trade dialogue process was set up in 2016. New Zealand is a member of the Trans Pacific Partnership, a free trade area that the UK has expressed an interest in after Brexit.

 

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8285

Authors: Ben Smith; Louisa Brooke-Holland; Dominic Webb

Topic: Australasia

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