New Zealand and EU formally launch free trade talks

Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker and European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström have launched negotiations for a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the EU.

“The start of negotiations is an important milestone in New Zealand's trade and economic relations with the EU,” David Parker said.

“A comprehensive, high-quality trade deal will deliver significant benefits to both New Zealanders and EU citizens.

“Commissioner Malmström has been an advocate for commencing negotiations with New Zealand. It is a pleasure to have her here.

“The EU is one of New Zealand’s largest economic partners. We share significant history, culture and values, and yet we currently discriminate against each other on trade. I’m pleased that this anomaly will soon be addressed.”

The first round of negotiations is expected to take place in Brussels in July.

David Parker said the talks provided a chance to adopt an agreement that would serve as a model for progressive and inclusive trade.

The Government launched its Trade for All agenda this year that establishes a mechanism to consult about future deals to help ensure all Kiwis benefit from trade agreements.

“Like New Zealand, the EU has a strong belief in the ability of trade agreements to achieve more than just commercial benefits.

“We want an agreement that contributes to sustainable development by addressing issues affecting climate change, gender equality, indigenous rights, labour and environment standards, and that supports small to medium sized enterprises and spreads the benefits of trade more widely.”

Minister Parker and Commissioner Malmström will speak about the FTA at business and public events in Auckland tomorrow.  Commissioner Malmström will also visit businesses with European connections while in Auckland.

“The EU shares our belief in the importance of increased transparency and public consultation around trade negotiations. I encourage all those with an interest to attend one of the upcoming public events, or to make a public submission,” David Parker said.

The public submissions process will run until 17 August. More information on this process, the FTA and further public events to be held around the country later in the year is available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.