EU to begin trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand

It has been confirmed that the green light has been given for the EU to begin trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.

The European Commission recently welcomed the adoption by the council of the negotiating directives for free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand.

It was announced that preparations – which included an impact assessment for both agreements – are now complete and formal negotiations can begin.

The development was welcomed by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

These agreements will build on the recent successful agreements with Canada, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam – as well as Mexico among others – expanding the alliance of partners committed to open and rules-based global trade.

“Open trade must go hand-in-hand with open and inclusive policy making. That’s why the commission published the draft negotiating mandates with Australia and New Zealand when it proposed to the council to open these negotiations.

“These agreements will be negotiated in the greatest transparency and we expect member states to uphold this high level of transparency.”

‘Win-win trade deals’

Following on from this, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom described the announcement as “great news”.

“We look forward to adding Australia and New Zealand to the EU’s ever-growing circle of close trading partners. We are already close in terms of shared values and our open, global outlook.

Together, we will now negotiate win-win trade deals that create new opportunities for our businesses – as well as safeguard high standards in key areas such as sustainable development.

“I am looking forward to visiting Canberra and Wellington in the coming weeks to officially launch our negotiations. Starting these talks between like-minded partners sends a strong signal at a time where many are taking the easy road of protectionism,” the commissioner said.

The commission sees Australia and New Zealand as important allies and it hopes that these agreements will offer significant economic gains by getting rid of obstacles and boosting trade further.

Despite the distance, trade between the EU and these two countries is already roughly the same as with Mexico or Canada, the European Commission added.

Having trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand would provide EU businesses with a valuable entry point into the wider Asia-Pacific region.

“They will also put European companies on an equal footing with those from the other countries in the area that have signed up to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) or that already enjoy better access to Australia and New Zealand through other preferential trade agreements,” it said.

It is understood that the first negotiation rounds between the teams of negotiators will take place in Brussels in July of this year.