Parliament sets guidelines for trade talks with Australia and New Zealand
- New opportunities for EU business, with a special focus on small firms
- Protection for EU farmers and consumers
- Separate agreements on trade and investment
Trade talks with Australia and New Zealand should aim to help the EU economy while protecting farmers and consumers, MEPs say in a resolution voted on Thursday.
The EU is set to launch negotiations for new free trade agreements with the two countries, aiming to boost trade in goods and services, and investment flows. MEPs offer various proposals as their input to the Council and the Commission for future talks.
Key suggestions include:
- EU businesses should be offered new opportunities to win contracts with public authorities,
- some agricultural products may need special treatment, such as quotas or transition periods and safeguard clauses. The most sensitive ones might have to be excluded,
- no provision should prevent EU governments from legislating to protect health, safety or the environment or require them to privatise public services,
- the EU’s consumer protection standards must be maintained,
- a specific chapter should be devoted to creating business opportunities for small companies, and
- separate deals should be concluded on trade and investment respectively with both countries.
The resolution on Australia was passed by 452 votes to 126 with 25 abstentions, and that on New Zealand by 440 votes to 122, with 27 abstentions.
Rapporteur Daniel Caspary (EPP, DE) said "While protectionism is on the rise in other parts of the world, the EU's trade agenda is on track: the trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand will bring us closer to each other and pave the way for new jobs and more growth."
The Council is expected to approve its negotiating mandates in November, which would enable the Commission to start talks with the two countries before the end of the year. The outcome of negotiations will have to be approved by the European Parliament. A delegation of trade MEPs will visit both countries next week to discuss possible contentious issues that could affect future negotiations.
EU-Australia trade and economic relations are currently governed by the 2008 EU-Australian Partnership Framework, while the EU and New Zealand entered into a partnership agreement this year. Australia's exports to the EU are dominated by minerals and agricultural products, while most EU exports to Australia are manufactured goods. New Zealand’s exports to the EU are agricultural products, while the majority of EU exports to New Zealand are again manufactured goods.