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EU agrees to start trade talks with Australia, New Zealand

The European Commission (EC) is to start formal trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.

The move comes after the completion of preparations, which included an impact assessment for both agreements, and negotiations will follow the draft mandate proposed by the Commission in September last year.

"These agreements will build on the recent successful agreements with Canada, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, as well as Mexico among others, expanding the alliance of partners committed to open and rules-based global trade," said EC President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Starting these talks between like-minded partners sends a strong signal at a time where many are taking the easy road of protectionism," added Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström.

Having trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand will provide EU businesses with a valuable entry point into the wider Asia-Pacific region.

They will also put European companies on an equal footing with those from the other countries in the area that have signed up to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) or that already enjoy better access to Australia and New Zealand through other preferential trade agreements.

The first negotiation rounds between the teams of negotiators are expected to take place in Brussels in July.

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