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Representatives from the EU and New Zealand have concluded preparatory talks that could pave the way for full trade negotiations.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and New Zealand's Trade Minister, Todd McClay, met in Brussels on March 3 to mark the end of the preparatory talks.
The discussions between the EU and New Zealand began in October 2015, based on new policy orientations set out in the EU's trade and investment strategy, "Trade for All." Over the last several months, representatives from both sides have examined a range of bilateral economic issues in an effort to determine what areas could be covered in, and the level of ambition appropriate for, any future negotiations.
As a next step, the European Commission will ask member states for a mandate to negotiate on behalf of the EU. The Commission is also finalizing its assessment of the potential impact of any such trade deal. The assessment will take into account the new opportunities an agreement could create for EU businesses, as well as sensitive agricultural issues that would need to be accommodated.
Annual trade between the EU and New Zealand is worth more than EUR8bn (USD7.5bn). The EU is New Zealand's second-largest trading partner after Australia, and EU companies hold nearly EUR10bn in foreign direct investment in New Zealand.
Since 1999, the EU and New Zealand have had a bilateral agreement for mutual recognition that aims to facilitate trade in industrial products by reducing technical barriers, including assessment procedures.
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