NZ-UK Free Trade Agreement – What does this mean for NZ’s Construction Industry?

By Stuart Robertson, partner, and Justin Fredrickson, associate, at Dentons Kensington Swan

On October 20, 2021 New Zealand and the UK reached agreement in principle on the key elements of a new free trade agreement between the two countries (FTA).  While most coverage related to the eventual gains by NZ’s food and wine industries there will also be an impact on the construction industry. We discuss this below:

  1. Tariffs on construction machinery will reduce to zero: We may see more British made machinery; think a lot more JCB branded diggers on site.
  2. New procurement rules: There is a commitment for a chapter on government procurement that will include new and expanded rules with market access (including the use of paperless procurement and open data). There will also be a commitment to provide additional market access for suppliers to participate in each other’s government procurement markets. The good news for the NZ market is that such access will help to facilitate the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises.
  3. Consumer protection such a chapter will also be included. These claims within construction disputes are not unusual and are usually brought under the Fair Trading Act 1986 in NZ or Unfair Trading Regulations in the UK. There is a commitment that the consumer protection chapter will include a helpful proscription of activities that harm consumers. There will also be cooperation on consumer rights and protection between enforcement agencies, including working together to reduce obstacles for consumers trying to make claims involving suppliers from the other country. We should eventually expect industry examples and case law to follow from this.
  4. Visas: At the time of writing there was still a British push for visas covering professionals such as engineers who needed to travel to New Zealand to work for a limited time on specific projects. This category of professionals did not make its way specifically into the agreement in principle (compared to architects and lawyers) but visas are mentioned as an area that will be dealt with outside of the FTA.

Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter. No warrant or guarantee whatsoever is given as to the accuracy of any information contained in the article, nor is any liability accepted for any actions taken based on this information.

Dentons Kensington Swan has New Zealand’s largest team of construction lawyers and we have worked on many of New Zealand’s largest construction projects. We are experts in both front end and back end construction matters.  

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Xpress Engineer NZ, NZ Engineering News or the parent company, Hayley Media.