September is shaping up to be a big month for Liz Truss and the Department for International Trade. While the minister herself has been tipped for higher things in the long-awaited reshuffle, she and her officials have been busily working away this recess to seal another trade deal. Wine-lovers across the country will be delighted to hear that a deal with New Zealand is looking likely within weeks, with hopes that it will be agreed by the Tory Party conference at the beginning of October.
As well as improving trade between the two countries – worth some £2.3 billion last year – a deal could expedite Britain's admission to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which it applied to join in January. It will however risk reopening wounds with the 'Waitrose Tories' and British farmers, still smarting from the wounds of last year's clashes over the Australia trade agreement. Reports from New Zealand suggest that ministers there are hoping to secure the same level of access for agricultural produce as their antipodean counterparts secured in June.
One Whitehall official told Mr S: 'If we get a deal, it'll be similar in shape to Australia – so liberalising, pro-enterprise and strong on services and digital trade. It would be a valuable deal in its own right but also has wider significance as a stepping stone into the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Joining CPTTP is about positioning Britain for future success and looking at where the booming parts of the global economy will be in 2030 and beyond.' They added that Truss is 'the one driving this forward' and 'is all over the detail.'
Steerpike wonders if New Zealand wine will be served to toast DIT's success at Tory conference.