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EU Seeking FTAs With Australia, New Zealand

by Mary Swire, Tax-News.com, Hong Kong

18 September 2017


The European Commission has published a package of proposed trade measures, which includes draft mandates for free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand.

The Commission has presented two recommendations to the European Council to launch trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand. As a next step, the Commission will ask EU member states to authorize the launch of formal negotiations and to adopt the negotiating directives.

The Commission said that it is ready to start the negotiations this autumn, and aims to finalize them before the end of its current mandate, which will expire in 2019.

The Commission said that the two agreements would increase EU exports to New Zealand and Australia by about a third in the long term. It explained that as the EU does not have preferential bilateral trade agreements with either country, its businesses have comparably less favorable access to these markets.

Trade between the EU and Australia is worth approximately EUR45.5bn (USD36.1bn) a year, while trade with New Zealand is worth EUR8bn. The EU is the third largest trading partner for both Australia and New Zealand.

The Commission will publish its negotiating mandates at the same time as it sends them to the Council. It will create an Advisory Group on EU trade agreements, to gather information and opinions from stakeholders.

The Commission's trade package also includes a recommendation for the establishment of a multilateral court for the settlement of investment disputes. The Commission envisages the creation of an international body empowered to hear disputes over investments between investors and states. The court would be a permanent body, with judges appointed by member states.

The EU believes that the existing Investor to State Dispute Settlement system is too ad hoc and fails to guarantee impartiality and predictability. The Commission has asked the Council for authorization to open negotiations with interested parties.

TAGS: court | tax | investment | business | European Commission | free trade agreement (FTA) | export duty | interest | law | tariffs | trade treaty | Australia | agreements | New Zealand | import duty | trade | European Union (EU) | Europe

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