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It’s early days, but negotiations are underway for a free trade deal with the EU, an agreement that will boost jobs and incomes, the government says

EU and New Zealand to start free trade talks

A free trade deal between New Zealand and the European Union (EU) has taken a major step forward with the announcement that the Foreign Affairs Council of the EU has approved its negotiating mandate.


Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker has welcomed the news, saying it opens the way for a free trade deal with one of the largest economies in the world that will boost jobs and incomes. 

“Credit must go to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern whose strong advocacy for New Zealand’s interests during her recent trip to Europe helped tip the balance,” Mr Parker says. “It is also an endorsement of our strong backing for the talks as the next priority on our extensive free trade agenda, that includes the CPTPP (the new Trans-Pacific Partnership), the Pacific Alliance (with Latin America countries) and RCEP (the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership involving Southeast Asian countries). 

“These negotiations offer significant economic gains for New Zealand and the EU. They are an example of like-minded countries working together at a time when the world faces a rising tide of protectionism.” 

Two-way trade worth billions

Mr Parker says the EU is New Zealand’s third-largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth more than $20 billion. “Even excluding the UK, our trade with the EU is worth about $16 billion annually,” he notes. 

“At the start of negotiations, we’ll be releasing a package of information outlining our negotiating priorities for this agreement and how we will be engaging with New Zealanders as negotiations progress.”

EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström arrived in New Zealand on 21 June and was welcomed in Wellington by Mr Parker for the formal launch of negotiations. The first round of talks is set down for July in Brussels. 

Trade builds prosperity

Confirmation that trade negotiations will begin on a free trade agreement with the EU is excellent news says the EMA. CEO Kim Campbell says the Prime Minister and her team are to be congratulated for progressing this trade discussion, which has long been considered an impossibility.

“The EU is a significant trade bloc and our exporters will welcome this move to pave the way for better access,” says Mr Campbell. “When we hear the anti-global rhetoric of some of our larger trading partners, it makes this news even more welcome. Trade builds prosperity, and agreements such as this are key building blocks to a connected, vibrant economy.”

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