New Zealand is negotiating a free trade agreement with the European Union, one of the world's largest trading entities. We're aiming for a high-quality, comprehensive agreement with the EU’s 27 member states.
High quality means an agreement that opens up new export opportunities for our businesses, adds to the more than 643,000 New Zealand jobs that already depend on trade and helps to deliver prosperity for all New Zealanders.
An agreement that sets a global benchmark on social and environmental priorities – like climate change, gender equality, indigenous rights, labour standards and sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
Throughout negotiations, we are committed to safeguarding our ability to regulate and decide what is best for New Zealand.
As with our other free trade agreements, we will preserve the unique status of the Treaty of Waitangi. We seek an agreement that increases opportunities and reduces barriers for Māori businesses in one of the world’s biggest markets.
The European Union is a close and like-minded partner for New Zealand. A progressive and inclusive free trade agreement is a chance to deepen that partnership, deliver significant economic gains, and agree on high standards in areas that matter to New Zealanders.
The economies involved
Partnering with European Union countries represents a huge opportunity for New Zealand exporters, opening up a market with a combined population of 450 million people who consume about 6 per cent of our overall exports.
Two-way trade between New Zealand and the EU (excluding the UK) is worth NZ$16.5 billion annually.
The EU is New Zealand's largest trading partner with which we do not yet have a free trade agreement.
For 2020, New Zealand annual goods exports to the EU were worth NZ$3.94 billion and services exports were worth NZ$1.24 billion
Our main goods exports to the EU are wine, fruit and meat. Our services exports are mainly tourism and transportation services.
The EU includes three of New Zealand’s top 20 trading partners – Germany, the Netherlands, and France.
New Zealand imported $2.39 billion in services and $8.32 billion in goods from the EU in 2020.
Overall, 10.5% of our total trade in goods and services is with the EU, making the EU our fourth largest trading partner.
New Zealand formally proposed an FTA with the European Union in 2009.
EU and NZ leaders announced their intention to negotiate an FTA in October 2015. Joint discussions on the scope of negotiations followed.
In 2017/2018 both sides finalised their mandate for negotiations.
Negotiations were formally launched in June 2018 and the first round of talks took place in July 2018 in Brussels.
Five key objectives for our negotiations
1. We want an FTA that promotes adherence to environmental and labour standards, better living conditions for New Zealanders and sustainable and progressive economic growth.
2. We want an FTA with Europe that reduces the costs our businesses face at the border by removing tariffs (import duties) and other barriers.
3. We want an FTA that will level the playing field with countries that currently pay less due to existing free trade agreements with the EU.
4. We want an agreement that lowers costs for consumers, making things like food and consumer goods cheaper for New Zealanders.
5. We want to ensure this FTA works for companies of all sizes, big and small.
You can read more about our objectives here.
Shared interests and values
New Zealand has longstanding historical, cultural, political and economic ties to Europe. These are the foundation for our modern relationship with the European Union.
Both parties share a commitment to the same fundamental values, such as respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. We are both committed to institutions such as the United Nations and World Trade Organization, which have helped to foster international rules and cooperation for decades.
We work together in a wide range of areas, from development in the Pacific, to scientific collaborations, to countering security threats like terrorism and cyber-crime.
New Zealand Prime Minister, meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2018.
Many New Zealanders have whakapapa (ancestry) connections to European countries. Our young people keep up a contemporary connection through study, travel and working holiday schemes with many European countries.
In 2016, New Zealand and the European Union signed a Partnership Agreement for Relations and Cooperation (PARC), to strengthen political dialogue and cooperation on economic and trade matters, as well as a wide range of other areas, from science and innovation to education and culture.
Benefits for goods exporters
Trade links foster mutually beneficial cooperation. For instance, New Zealand kiwifruit company Zespri partners with Italian growers to help supply global markets all year round.
As in every FTA negotiation, New Zealand will seek comprehensive liberalisation of all goods that we trade with the EU within commercially meaningful timeframes. This will help level the playing field with New Zealand's competitors in the EU.
We will also seek to reduce the costs of non-tariff barriers both at and behind the border.
Benefits for services exporters and small and medium businesses
Making an agreement work for small and medium enterprises is a priority for New Zealand's negotiators. Above, NZ-owned Moaburger in Poland.
An EU-NZ FTA will support the growing services and digital sectors, helping businesses of all sizes to trade. The FTA will aim to provide more access and certainty for trade in services sectors like private education, ICT, professional services and transport.
The EU and New Zealand have agreed to explore provisions that encourage trade in environmental goods and the sustainable use of natural resources.
Our negotiators will preserve the unique status of the Treaty of Waitangi.
The EU recognises the importance of this to New Zealand, and has agreed that an EU-NZ agreement should include a Treaty of Waitangi exception provision to ensure the government can meet its obligations to Māori.
This provision will be consistent with all of New Zealand’s recent FTAs.
Also in line with previous free trade agreements, the FTA will include general exceptions and specific reservations to preserve the Government's right to regulate and ensure public provision in areas such as health, education, labour, environment, water, culture and heritage and other areas that are important to New Zealanders.
Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) and investment protection provisions are not included in the EU mandate for negotiations with New Zealand, and therefore will not form part of FTA negotiations. New Zealand is opposed to ISDS.
The first round of formal negotiations was held in July 2018 in Brussels.
We’ll be providing a summary of the outcome of each round as negotiations progress.
Once an agreement is reached, it will be released for public scrutiny, as will a National Interest Analysis.
The agreement will also undergo parliamentary treaty examination and will enter into force once it has been ratified by Parliament.
An EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement will preserve the unique status of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Share your views on an EU-NZ FTA
Public consultations since late 2017 have included discussions on the EU-NZ FTA. We want to hear more of New Zealanders' views throughout the FTA process.
Anyone with an interest in this agreement, including Māori, NGOs, businesses and members of the public, is welcome to submit questions or feedback to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Submissions can be sent to:
Post: EU FTA Coordinator
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Private Bag 18-901, Wellington