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EU lawmakers approve New Zealand trade deal to end hiatus

Reuters | 22 November 2023

EU lawmakers approve New Zealand trade deal to end hiatus

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS, Nov 22 (Reuters) - The European Parliament approved on Wednesday the European Union’s free trade agreement with New Zealand, its first endorsement of such a deal in more than three years.

EU lawmakers voted by 524 to 85 for the deal, which may now enter force in early 2024.

Daniel Caspary, the German Christian Democrat overseeing the agreement’s passage through parliament, said the vote was "overdue", as the last trade deal to be cleared was with Vietnam in February 2020.

"I had also hoped we would bring our trade agreements with Australia and perhaps also Mercosur to a good conclusion in this term," he continued.

The parties concluded negotiations in June 2022 on an agreement that could boost trade by 30% and highlights Europe’s push for alliances to make up for business lost with Russia and with growing wariness of China.

The European Commission has concluded multiple deals, but getting them approved by EU governments and lawmakers has proven a challenge, with France in particular reluctant to clear agreements that lead to more agricultural imports.

Deals struck with Chile and Mexico are waiting, while the EU is negotiating extra environmental guarantees from South American bloc Mercosur. EU-Australia talks have become stuck.

The New Zealand agreement will remove some 140 million euros ($153 million) of annual tariffs on EU exports such as clothing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and cars, as well as wine and confectionary. The EU will increase by 10,000 tonnes its quota of New Zealand beef and raise volumes for lamb, butter and cheese, although the country’s farmers have expressed disappointment.

The agreement is the first by the EU to include potential sanctions for violations of environmental or labour standards.

Lobby group BusinessEurope said the parliamentary vote was a welcome step. German environmental campaign group PowerShift said the deal would boost trade in climate-damaging goods and increase carbon emissions from long-distance transport.

 source: Reuters