January 25, 2019 / 10:44 AM / 6 months ago

EU wants to seal trade deal with New Zealand this year

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels, Belgium January 25, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday that he was aiming to clinch a trade deal with New Zealand this year.

Informal talks for a trade deal between the 28-nation EU and the Pacific state started in May and were formally launched the following month.

“I’m of the opinion that we should do everything possible to conclude a trade agreement between New Zealand and the European Union in the course of this year,” Juncker told a news conference after a meeting in Brussels with New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“I’d like to conclude this deal before the end of the mandate of my Commission,” which ends in October, Juncker added.

At the same news conference, Ardern said she shared the “level of ambition” showed by the EU in quickly concluding the talks.

Under the EU negotiating mandate, trade in some agriculture sectors, like sheep, beef and diaries, would not be fully liberalized.

The EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan said quotas could be agreed with New Zealand for sectors that will remain subject to tariffs.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Alissa de Carbonnel and Raissa Kasolowsky

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