26 Jan 2019

Expert urges caution over speedy trade deal with EU

6:18 pm on 26 January 2019

A trade expert is advising negotiators not to rush a free trade agreement with the European Union, New Zealand's third largest export market.

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Charles Finny is concerned New Zealand's agricultural exports may suffer if a trade deal with the EU is rushed. Photo: 123RF

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the EU was keen to conclude a free trade agreement with New Zealand by the end of the year.

Ms Ardern held talks with the EU leaders, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, today in Brussels, and said she was surprised how much enthusiasm there was for getting a trade deal resolved this year.

Charles Finny

Charles Finny Photo: SUPPLIED

Former trade deal negotiator and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise board member, Charles Finny, said that the EU might be pushing for a speedy resolution in return for sacrifices on agricultural tariffs.

Mr Finny said even so, it should be possible to conclude an agreement this year, shaving up to a year off the expected time it takes to negotiate such deals.

"I'm still a little bit dubious on the agricultural front but if the EU wants to send a good signal in this time of growing international protectionism it would be fantastic to agree a good comprehensive FTA with New Zealand."

Earlier Ms Ardern said she was surprised how enthusiastic Mr Juncker in particular was on getting a trade deal resolved this year.

"I had heard before of course the view coming from the EU - the hope within this current administration seeking a conclusion within this term by the end of 2019, but the degree with which he [Mr Juncker] was putting emphasis on this really stood out to me."

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