Opening of FTA negotiations with Australia and New Zealand

The regional economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific region is being shaped by both China and the US through ongoing plurilateral negotiations that include the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The EU, Australia and New Zealand are like-minded partners sharing common democratic values and interests, and see eye-to-eye on key global issues such as human rights, security, development and protection of the environment.

Despite close cooperation, Australia and New Zealand remain two out of only six members of the World Trade Organisation with whom the EU has no mutual preferential market access agreement or ongoing negotiations to that end. The other countries are Russia, China, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). It is difficult to see why Australia and New Zealand remain in this group.

Can the Commission explain why close partners such as Australia and New Zealand, who have been seeking a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU for nearly a decade, have not been able to launch negotiations with the EU?

What are the possible risks of trade diversion resulting from the TPP, and do these affect the potential interest of the EU in concluding high-quality comprehensive FTAs with Australia and New Zealand?

Would focusing on swift, high-quality and comprehensive agreements with like-minded and ambitious partners such as Australia and New Zealand permit the EU to further integrate into value chains in the Asia-Pacific region?

Following the launch of the EU’s new Trade and Investment Strategy, the Joint Statement by Presidents Juncker and Tusk and New Zealand Prime Minister Key of 29 October 2015 and the Joint Statement by Presidents Juncker and Tusk and the Australian Prime Minister Turnbull of 15 November 2015, can the Commission give an update on its plans concerning future FTAs with Australia and New Zealand?