WELLINGTON， Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay will be in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next week in another bid to finalize a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Gulf states.
MClay said Friday he would be pressing for a conclusion to the negotiations between New Zealand and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)， which began back in 2009.
McClay would meet bilaterally with ministerial counterparts and business leaders， including UAE Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoor and Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce Khalid Nasser Al Roudhan.
"This is my third visit to the region since becoming trade minister and it is important that we continue to lobby for the conclusion of the agreement. Progress on a GCC FTA will offer greater opportunity for New Zealand companies in this highly competitive market，" McClay said in a statement.
The GCC comprising Saudi Arabia， the UAE， Kuwait， Qatar， Bahrain and Oman was New Zealand's eighth largest trading partner， with annual two-way trade exceeding 3.5 billion NZ dollars (2.49 billion U.S. dollars).
In September last year， New Zealand and Saudi Arabian leaders appeared to have overcome stumbling blocks towards a long-anticipated FTA， after McClay held talks with Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi and they agreed to work towards its early completion.
In 2015， then New Zealand Prime Minister John Key visited the GCC states， and said Saudi Arabia was going to be the stumbling block to the deal.
It was believed that Saudi government took umbrage over New Zealand's ban on exports of live sheep a trade in which Saudi businesses had invested heavily.
McClay would travel to Switzerland on Jan. 19 and 20 to attend a meeting of key World Trade Organization (WTO) trade ministers to discuss developments in the multilateral trading system and prospects for progress ahead of the 11th WTO Ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires.
| A SINA release | January 13, 2017 |