New Zealand trade minister Todd McClay expects formal negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between his country and the European Union to be launched later this year.
The minister’s assertion comes after the European Commission and the New Zealand government finalised their respective negotiating mandates for the trade pact.
“European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also announced tonight [13 September] in his ‘State of the Union’ address that he is seeking approval to launch negotiations and aims to conclude the NZ-EU FTA by late 2019,” McClay explained.
“An FTA will give New Zealand companies an opportunity to significantly increase trade with the EU.”
The European Commission will now send its negotiating mandate to the European Council for approval.
Two-way trade between New Zealand and the EU is currently worth more than NZ$20bn per year.
“More than 8500 jobs are created in New Zealand by every billion dollars of exports,” McClay added. “That means a deal with the EU that increases trade has the potential to create thousands more jobs for Kiwis.”