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The EU completes ratification of trade deal with New Zealand

Tariffs on EU exports to New Zealand will be eliminated, sensitive agri-food products in the New Zealand market will be protected, and the import of products that could affect European production will be limited.


Transport of goods by sea.

The EU concluded on Monday the political procedures for ratifying the ambitious free trade agreement (FTA) with New Zealand. The decision by the Council of the European Union comes less than a week after the European Parliament gave its approval.

The agreement is expected to reduce the fees paid by EU companies by around €140 million annually. As a result, bilateral trade is expected to increase by up to 30% within a decade, with EU export growth potentially reaching €4.5 billion annually. EU investment in New Zealand is expected to increase by up to 80%. This historic agreement also includes unprecedented commitments on sustainability, for example in relation to respect for the Paris Agreement on climate change and fundamental labor rights.

The trade agreements are part of the EU's open, or 'partnership-building', approach to trade which is one of the three objectives of the European Economic Security Strategy presented in June. This agreement also reinforces the EU's commitment to the strategically and economically important Indo-Pacific region.

In the words of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen: «For us, New Zealand is a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region and this ambitious free trade agreement will bring us even closer. The agreement will provide great opportunities for EU companies and exports are expected to grow by up to €4.5 billion a year. But that's not all: thanks to unprecedented social and climate commitments, our consumers and the environment will also benefit. "This is how the EU achieves positive results on a global scale: by working in cooperation with our partners."

New export opportunities for large and small companies

The EU-New Zealand FTA will offer new opportunities for businesses, thanks to:
- all tariffs on EU exports to New Zealand will be removed;

- New Zealand's services market will open up in key sectors such as financial services, telecommunications, shipping and delivery services;

- non-discriminatory treatment will be ensured for EU investors in New Zealand and vice versa;

- access for EU businesses to New Zealand public contracts will be improved for concessions of goods, services and works;

- facilitated data flows, predictable and transparent rules for digital commerce and a safe internet environment for consumers; 

- unjustified data localization requirements will be avoided and strict standards regarding the protection of personal data will be maintained;

- small businesses will be helped to increase their exports through a specific chapter on small and medium-sized enterprises;

- Compliance requirements and procedures will be significantly reduced to allow for a faster flow of goods;

- New Zealand has made a significant commitment to protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights, in line with EU standards.

Agri-food industry: stimulating exports while protecting our sensitivities
Once the deal is implemented, EU farmers will immediately have much better opportunities to sell their produce in New Zealand. From day one, tariffs on key EU exports such as pork, wine and sparkling wine, chocolate, confectionery and biscuits will be removed.

Furthermore, EU farmers will see benefits beyond tariff reductions. The FTA will fully protect the EU list of wines and spirits (close to 2,000 denominations) such as Prosecco, Polish Vodka, Rioja, Champagne and Tokaji. Likewise, in New Zealand, 163 of the EU's best-known traditional products (geographical indications) will be protected, such as Asiago, Feta, Comté or Manchego cheeses, Istarski pršut ham, Lübeck marzipan and Elia Kalamatas olives.

The agreement takes into account the interests of the EU's sensitive agricultural sectors; among them, those of various dairy products, beef and sheep, ethanol and sweet corn. For these sectors there will be no trade liberalization. Instead, the agreement will allow imports from New Zealand with reduced or no tariffs only in limited quantities (through so-called tariff quotas). 

The most ambitious commitments on sustainability that have been included in a free trade agreement

The EU-New Zealand FTA is the first to integrate the new EU approach to trade and sustainable development announced in the Communication entitled 'The power of trade partnerships: together for green and fair economic growth'.

Both sides agreed to ambitious commitments on trade and sustainable development covering a wide range of issues based on cooperation and stronger implementation. For the first time in an EU free trade agreement, the text includes a chapter dedicated to sustainable food systems, an article on trade and gender equality and a specific provision on trade and fossil fuel subsidy reform . The agreement also liberalizes environmental goods and services upon its entry into force.

Next stages

Before the agreement can come into force, New Zealand must complete its ratification procedure. This is planned to occur in the first or second quarter of 2024.


Negotiations to conclude a free trade agreement with New Zealand began in June 2018. Twelve rounds of negotiations were held until March 2022, followed by intersessional discussions leading to the conclusion of negotiations on June 30, 2022. , date on which the agreement was announced by President von der Leyen and the then New Zealand Prime Minister, Ardern, in the presence of Executive Vice President Dombrovskis and New Zealand Trade Minister O'Connor, who led the negotiations for both parties. The two Parties signed the agreement in July 2023 and the European Parliament approved it on November 22, 2023.

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