EU to start free trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand

Following recent trade deals with Canada, Japan, Singapore and Mexico, the EU has announced that it will be pursuing free trade deals with Australia and New Zealand over the next year. The deal has been agreed by all the member states, and both sides have said that talks will start over the next few weeks.

In a statement, EU president Jean-Claude Juncker said that he plans to complete the trade negotiations by 31st October next year. New Zealand’s trade minister, David Parker said: “The EU is our third-largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth more than $20bn [£10.3bn]. Even excluding the UK, our trade with the EU is worth about $16bn annually.”

The UK has also said that it hopes to secure deals with Australia and New Zealand post-brexit. However, the UK cannot start its negotiations until March 2019, meaning that the EU could reach an agreement first, and, could enjoy a better deal.

The EU hopes that a new deal could open up new export opportunities for machinery, motor equipment, chemicals and services. Australia said that it will be pushing for greater access to agricultural markets, however the EU noted that it wants to keep special treatment for agricultural good in order to protect European products.

Australian trade minister, Steve Ciobo,  said Australia would aim for a “high-quality, comprehensive free trade deal with the European Union in as quick a time as possible” but wouldn’t be willing to  “sacrifice the quality of a trade deal for speed”.

Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for trade, added: “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. Starting these talks between likeminded partners sends a strong signal at a time where many are taking the easy road of protectionism.”

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