BRUSSELS, Belgium: Negotiations on a free trade agreement between the European Union and New Zealand ended successfully this week, paving the way to boost their flow of goods and services by 30 percent.
EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said the agreement sent an important "geopolitical signal" and stressed that the European Union would seek further partnerships.
"It's clear that we need to diversify away from Russia ... (and) look for new markets, supply chains and so forth, and this is exactly what this deal contributes too," Dombrovskis told reporters.
The agreement will remove tariffs on several products and be the first struck by the EU to include potential sanctions for violations of environmental or labour standards, a concept it only proposed last week.
Tariffs will fall for EU exports, such as clothing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and cars, as well as wine and confectionary. The EU will increase by 10,000 tonnes its quota of New Zealand beef, a sensitive area for France, in particular, as well as raising volumes for lamb, butter and cheese.
The deal may enter force in 18-24 months, subject to approval by the European Parliament and EU governments, a process which has sometimes dragged on for years.