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EU-NZ deal highlights need to do more on trade

Today marks a significant milestone in international trade as MEPs adopted a comprehensive trade agreement between the European Union and New Zealand, which removes 100 per cent of New Zealand tariffs on EU exports and 98.5 per cent of EU tariffs on New Zealand trade.

While the decision could lead to a very welcome boost in bilateral trade, for the ECR Group the news also underlines the EU’s shortcomings on facilitating trade with third countries.

ECR shadow rapporteur Jan Zahradil MEP, speaking in the European Parliament plenary on Tuesday, hailed the agreement: “It deepens our relations with the Indo-Pacific and it strengthens ties with our like-minded ally”, but he also pointed out the need for the EU to do more on trade. “All this is good news, but unfortunately also rare news, because we did not finish too many trade deals during this legislature. In less than six months this European Parliament comes to an end, so this is one of the last chances for us to show up.”

The agreement is only the second free trade agreement to be ratified during this legislative term, after that concluded with Vietnam. For the ECR Group, this is disappointing. The EU should embrace the benefits that free trade brings to both sides, in the form of business opportunities, competitiveness and innovation, instead of paying excessive attention to radical sustainability criteria and wielding the threat of sanctions in case of violations on the part of trade partners.

The ECR Group’s coordinator in the Committee on International Trade, Geert Bourgeois MEP spoke in the same plenary debate of the added value found in boosting trade with extra-EU countries: “Trade agreements bring growth and prosperity; they help our supply chains diversity; they bring stability and bring people together.”

In the same vein as his Czech colleague, Bourgeois called on the EU to “work more pragmatically on trade, working as a partner rather than imposing itself on third countries and threatening them with sanctions.”

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