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New Zealand and EU agree to deepen relations

New Zealand and EU agree to deepen relations

New Zealand and the European Union (EU) have agreed to take steps to deepen their relationship including through a possible Free Trade Agreement following a meeting in The Hague.

Prime Minister John Key met with President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso and President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy during the Nuclear Security Summit.

“The EU is our third largest trading partner with over $16 billion in two-way trade of goods and services. It is also a long-standing close friend and partner. We share common interests, values and history,” said Mr Key.

“However, we can’t afford to be complacent, especially given the shift in economic gravity to Asia. We’ve agreed to consider our options for refreshing our trade and economic relationship over the next 12 months.”

For the first time, the EU has agreed to consider a Free Trade Agreement as one such option.

“This is a significant development. We’ve always said a Free Trade Agreement is the obvious next step. We’re not there yet, but the issue is now on the agenda – and that’s a step forward. We’re going to come back to this in 2015 to take decisions on what to do next,” says Mr Key.

“Our relationship is broader than just trade. We’re also working to conclude a new Partnership Agreement which will provide a blueprint for all aspects of our relationship well into the 21st century.”

“The EU’s decision to upgrade its diplomatic mission in Wellington is a positive demonstration of its commitment to the relationship. I look forward to welcoming the EU’s first resident Ambassador in Wellington.” Prime Minister Key says.

Ends

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