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New Zealand, EU strike free trade deal after four years of talks

Agreement provides duty-free access for 97% of exports to EU, PM Ardern says

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expects the deal to increase exports to the EU.   © Reuters

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union and New Zealand said Thursday they have concluded a free trade deal after four years of negotiations and sealed a partnership to reinforce their cooperation against organized crime and terrorist groups.

According to the EU, trade with New Zealand is expected to increase by 30% as a result of the deal, with removing tariffs alone saving businesses 140 million euros ($146 million) in duties per year.

"This is a historic moment," said Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the EU's executive branch. "It is a solid and it is a modern trade agreement. It brings major opportunities to our companies, our farmers, our consumers. And important: on both sides."

The 27-nation bloc said Thursday that EU investment flows into New Zealand could increase by over 80%.

Bilateral trade in goods between the two partners has risen steadily in recent years, reaching almost 7.8 billion euros in 2021. The EU is New Zealand's third-biggest trade partner.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the deal provides duty-free access for 97% of New Zealand's current exports to the EU, with 91% being lifted on the day the deal will be implemented.

Von der Leyen said the deal protects 200 European agri-food products with geographical indicators, and guarantees that almost all tariffs will be eliminated on EU exports to New Zealand.

The deal will enter into force once the European Parliament has endorsed it and New Zealand has ratified it.

In addition, both sides agreed on closer cooperation on law enforcement with a deal between New Zealand and Europol, the EU's crime agency. Von der Leyen said it will help prevent terrorist attacks that took place in previous years on EU and New Zealand soil and will address online terrorist content.

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