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The EU has taken a step forward in its preparations to begin separate trade talks with New Zealand and Australia. EU Agricultural Commissioner, Phil Hogan, confirmed to ministers on July 17, that draft trade negotiation directives are being prepared and would be tabled for member state discussion after the summer.

Preliminary discussions with both countries have already been held in order to determine objectives in terms of the depth of any future trade deal as well as potential issues. These scoping exercises both outline an ambition to achieve enhanced market access for goods, services, investment and public procurement, to eliminate unnecessary non-tariff barriers through convergence on regulatory issues including sanitary and phytosanitary matters and approval procedures, and to contribute to sustainable development. Agriculture, and in particular dairy and sheepmeat, were highlighted as vulnerable sectors for the EU.

Northern Irish MEP, Jim Nicholson, has stressed the necessity of these vulnerable sectors being respected in the discussions with New Zealand, within an opinion drafted for the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee. He argues that New Zealand’s very competitive and strongly export-orientated agricultural sector is “unique in its exposure to international markets owing to a low level of agricultural support”, and has therefore called for appropriate transitional periods and quotas, if not no commitments at all, in these sectors.

Alison Graham

European Affairs Executive


Tags: Australia, EU, New zealand, Trade Talks