29 Oct 2012

EU rush to sign Asian deals unlikely to include NZ

7:01 am on 29 October 2012

A rush by the European Union to sign trade deals in Asia is unlikely to include New Zealand so long as exporters here continue to use European place names to market their products.

Europe last year signed a free trade deal with South Korea and is currently negotiating deals with Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Brussels has a long-standing objection to the marketing of hard cheese by countries using the Italian place name of Parma.

Policy co-ordinator in the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission, Moumen Hamdouch, says that's one factor standing in the way of a trade deal with New Zealand.

He says it's important for both sides to explore areas which are known to be sensitive such as agriculture or protection of intellectual property.

Mr Hamdouch says reassurance is needed about what could be achieved and whether it would be mutually beneficial to proceed with deepening the trade relationship with a free trade agreement.

He says New Zealand shouldn't give up on a free trade deal with Europe.

Mr Hamdouch says Europe is still New Zealand's third largest trading partner so New Zealand needs to remain engaged with Europe.