14 Sep 2017

EU free trade plan appeals to minister

2:06 pm on 14 September 2017

Trade Minister Todd McClay is welcoming comments made by the European Commission president about getting on with a free trade deal with New Zealand.

Todd McClay

Trade Minister Todd McClay Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Mr Juncker's annual state of the union speech to the European parliament in Strasbourg was notably more upbeat about the future than his speech a year ago.

In it, Mr Juncker said he wanted to open trade talks with New Zealand and Australia and complete them by 2019.

"Today, we are proposing to open trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand," he said.

"I want all of these agreements to be finalised by the end of this mandate. And I want them negotiated in the fullest transparency.

"Open trade must go hand in hand with open policy making."

He also warned the UK it would come to regret the Brexit decision.

Mr McClay said a deal with the EU would be good for the economy and give certainty for jobs.

He said Mr Junker's comments followed on from Britain also making overtures to New Zealand about a speedy trade deal.

"The UK has said that New Zealand and Australia will be first cab off the rank for their new FTAs when they leave the European Union.

"In the meantime the commission has said this too is a priority for them.

"It feels a bit like all the hard work of the last couple of years means we're gonna get to have our European cake and eat it too."