Insights Government agrees new Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand

On 20 October 2021 the UK and New Zealand reached an agreement in principle on a free trade agreement (FTA). The necessary steps are now being taken to prepare the trade agreement for signature.

Below are the key digital, telecoms and intellectual property points from the agreement in principle.

Commitments in the IP chapter will include:

  • a commitment from New Zealand to extend copyright term by 20 years for authors, performers and producers, which will be implemented within 15 years of entry into force of the FTA;
  • a commitment to adopt or maintain artist’s resale right schemes and operate them on a reciprocal basis; in New Zealand’s case this scheme will be introduced within two years of entry into force of the FTA; and
  • commitments to adopt or maintain a public performance right for performers to cover communication to the public of phonograms.

Commitments in the digital trade chapter will:

  • enable cross-border data flows and avoid unjustified data localisation, while also ensuring governments can enact measures in respect to data protection, privacy and other legitimate public policy objectives;
  • commit to open digital markets by establishing effective principles that allow businesses to operate fairly and competitively, including recognition that consumers benefit from reasonable treatment by internet service providers and a commitment not to impose customs duties on electronic transmissions;
  • reduce barriers to digital trade by addressing restrictive practices such as requirements for paper-based trade administration documents, promotion of e-invoicing and a commitment to accept e-contracts, except in circumstances provided for under New Zealand or the UK’s laws; the two countries will ensure that electronic transactions and electronic transferable records regulations are implemented in a manner consistent with international frameworks;
  • promote a safe trading environment which builds business and consumer trust, including commitments that discourage unsolicited commercial electronic messages (spam), protect personal information and support cooperation in the establishment of New Zealand’s and the UK’s respective digital identities frameworks; the two countries will also recognise the importance of working together on cyber security issues and encouraging businesses to improve their cyber security resilience;
  • improve the accessibility, as appropriate, of publicly available, anonymised government data and information in a machine-readable format for the purpose of economic, social and research benefit;
  • protect innovation by preventing the forced tech transfer of encryption keys, subject to legitimate scrutiny and regulatory interventions by appropriate authorities alongside other protections to address emerging issues in these areas; and
  • support ongoing cooperation on important digital trade issues, including on digital innovation, emerging technologies, and digital identities; both countries will cooperate on digital inclusion, to ensure that all people and businesses can harness the potential benefits arising from digital trade.

Commitments in the telecommunications chapter will include:

  • ensuring competition in both telecommunications markets by adopting and maintaining competitive safeguards and approaches to regulation that prevent anti-competitive practices including by ensuring non-discriminatory treatment;
  • commitments to allow access to essential facilities and interconnection for the provision of public telecommunications services;
  • ensuring service suppliers of both countries have access to and use of any public telecommunications network or service on a timely basis and on reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms and conditions;
  • maintaining the independence of telecommunications regulatory authorities, ensuring that regulators are sufficiently empowered to regulate the sector;
  • allowing telecommunications services and networks to operate without prior authorisation including licensing;
  • a provision that ensures suppliers who receive information through negotiations will protect the confidentiality of that information, and both countries will adopt or maintain measures to protect the confidentiality of telecommunications and related traffic data of users in accordance with local laws;
  • a commitment to cooperate on international mobile roaming services as appropriate to promote transparent and reasonable rates which support consumers and businesses and to consider steps to enhance transparency and competition with respect to such rates;
  • provisions that will support regulatory authorities to resolve disputes at an operator-to-operator level; and
  • a commitment to cooperate through exchanging information on opportunities and challenges in the telecommunications sector and to work together in international fora to promote a shared approach to international standards.

The Government also says that the deal is another step towards the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). To read the agreement in principle in full, click here. To read the Government’s press release, click here.