logo logo


EU-ANZ (EU-Australia & EU-New Zealand)

The European Union (EU), Australia and New Zealand (NZ) started discussing the possibility of negotiating two comprehensive free trade agreements – EU-Australia and EU-New Zealand – in 2015. Following the US’ decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in January 2017, the EU saw a key opportunity to move ahead and strengthen its position in the Asia and Pacific region.

The EU’s trade deal with Canada has often been mentioned as a model for the proposed agreements with Australia and New Zealand. As specified in the EU negotiating directives adopted in 2018 (see here for EU-Australia and here for EU-NZ), the agreements will cover a broad array of topics including trade in goods, trade in services (including digital trade) and investment.

Agriculture is set to be one of the most contentious areas of discussion. Both Australia and New Zealand have an aggressive, export-focused agricultural industry based on extensive, large-scale crop and livestock farms. European meat producers are worried about cheaper meat entering the EU market through these deals. Australian and New Zealand producers, on the other hand, are worried about the EU’s push for its geographical indications scheme that would prevent them from using names such as Feta, Parmesan and Camembert for locally produced cheese.

In New Zealand, the deal has come under fire for promising "more of the same" despite the government’s progressive branding campaign. "We can expect clip-on chapters that promise to help women, indigenous peoples, workers and small and medium enterprises to prosper through trade, alongside cooperation on climate change and sustainability. But the trade rules that generate inequalities, favour the wealthiest transnational corporations, threaten jobs, consume fossil fuels and destroy the environment will remain unchanged," warns activist professor Jane Kelsey.

The agreements will include provisions on regulatory cooperation. The aim is to reduce the differences in regulations between the countries, including on environmental, health and social matters, which are seen by large corporations as “barriers to trade”. Corporations are also pushing to be notified of any new proposed regulation and be granted the opportunity to comment on it so that it will not excessively affect their profits.

The European Commission has indicated its desire to “fast track” the negotiations. To avoid ratification by all the European national and regional parliaments, the controversial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism has been excluded from the agreements, since it has come under heavy criticism from social movements and needs the consent of all EU member states. Hence the agreements will only require the approval of the EU body in order to be ratified on the European side.

In Australia and New Zealand, trade deals are approved by the executives (cabinets). They do not need the parliaments to vote. Yet if changes to national laws are required, then the parliaments will have to vote implementing legislation.

last update: June 2018
Photo: Bernard Spragg/Public domain

Australia, EU mineral pact ’augurs well’ for free trade
A new agreement between Australia and the European Union to boost the supply of critical minerals and technology is being heralded as a positive step towards a full free trade negotiation.
EU trade deal with New Zealand comes into force
The European Commission has said that EU exports to New Zealand could grow by up to €4.5 billion annually as a new trade agreement enters into force.
EU commissioner says FTA with Australia would help minerals push
Europe’s Commissioner for Energy said she had been in conversations with Australia’s Resources Minister for an agreement on critical minerals, and that there would be more news “soon.”
Australia looking to resume talks on European Free Trade Agreement
Trade and Tourism Minister Don Farrell says he and his European counterpart are both committed to “having another go” at a Free Trade Agreement.
NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement to come into force in May
New Zealand’s MPs voted overwhelming in favour of legislation in Parliament, allowing the deal to take effect in just over a month’s time.
CTU has informed EU of free trade agreement labour law breach
The CTU has sent a letter to the European Commissioner of Trade to bring his attention to New Zealand’s disregard of its obligations under the Trade and Sustainable Development chapter of the NZ-EU FTA by the Government’s repeal of Fair Pay Agreements
EU FTA only months away now
New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay said legislation ratifying the agreement is one of the government’s top priorities after Parliament resumes on January 30.
EU-New Zealand trade pact gets Brussels’ final green light
Brussels gave the final green light for an EU-New Zealand trade deal that, while mutually lowering barriers for both markets, highlights the recent failure of EU-Australia negotiations.
EU lawmakers approve New Zealand trade deal to end hiatus
The European Parliament approved the European Union’s free trade agreement with New Zealand, its first endorsement of such a deal in more than three years.
‘End game’ trade deal with EU collapses as both sides walk away
A last-ditch attempt to secure a free trade agreement with the European Union over better access for Australian meat and protections for continental goods has fallen apart before the “end game” negotiations could start, a move that will set any deal with the bloc back years.