EU, New Zealand Start Free Trade Talks, ‘Ambitious’ to Strike Deal in 2 Years

EU, New Zealand Start Free Trade Talks, ‘Ambitious’ to Strike Deal in 2 Years

After it launched its long-anticipated free trade agreement talks with Australia earlier this week, the European Union has now started similar negotiations with New Zealand, another key EU partner in the Pacific region.

New Zealand’s government in particular is hoping it will strike a free trade deal with the EU within the next two years, according to reports in the New Zealand press, while the European Commission has twice referred to the talks as “ambitious” in its official announcement.

EU – New Zealand trade in goods was worth EUR 8.7 billion in 2017, and the bilateral trade in services stood at EUR 4.4 billion in 2016.

According to the European Commission, a potential EU – New Zealand free trade deal could boost the former by nearly 50%, or result in a 30% boost for goods and services combined.

The negotiations have formally been kicked off in New Zealand’s capital Wellington by EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and New Zealand’s Minister for Trade David Parker.

While noting that the EU is New Zealand’s third largest trading partner, the European Commission also points out the new free trade talks come against the backdrop of the already launched negotiations with Australia, last year’s concluded talks with Japan and Singapore and this year’s with Mexico, and the entering into force of the EU – Canada free trade agreement (CETA) in September 2017.

Not unlike Australia, New Zealand recently negotiated the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) free trade deal with 10 other countries from the Pacific region.

“In New Zealand, we know that we have a partner who stands up for the same vital values as us. This agreement is an excellent opportunity to set ambitious common rules and shape globalization,” Malmström has stated.

New Zealand’s The Trade Minister David Parker has emphasized in turn that the EU accounts for more than 10% of his country’s total exports.

“Even excluding the United Kingdom two-way trade is about $16 billion per annum,” Parker has said, as cited by TVNZ.

Not unlike the EU’s free trade talks with Australia, much of the sensitive areas in the EU – New Zealand negotiations are expected to be focused around agriculture, with New Zealand’s Agricultural Trade Envoy Mike Petersen forecasting some backlash from European farmers.

(Banner image: Pixabay)

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