Late last night NZ Prime Minister Ardern met European Council President Donald Tusk and then European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who expressed a strong desire to finish the deal as soon as possible.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says a completed free trade deal with the EU by the end of this year is realistic, but New Zealand will still push hard for open access for agricultural products to the EU market.
A deal with the EU is estimated to benefit New Zealand by as much as $2 billion a year, and promoting it has been a central focus of Ardern's trip to Europe this week.
Just before boarding a flight back to New Zealand this morning, Ardern said she was pleasantly surprised at the level of enthusiasm for a swift solution: "The degree with which he [Juncker] was putting emphasis on that really stood out to me and surprised me. He shared that ambition publicly. He wants to see the deal done.”
"There are benefits to us concluding and moving quickly, but at the same time we need to make sure it is a quality deal. Things are moving quickly, keeping in mind that New Zealand's starting point is basically open access to the EU. That probably is in part why this is a negotiation they believe they can move quite quickly on."
Ardern said New Zealand's agricultural produce was in high demand, but they were already in the EU markets and often had points of difference.
Odt.co.nz reports how besides the US, the EU is the largest trading partner that New Zealand does not have an FTA with. In 2017, New Zealand exports to the EU added up to $5.2 billion, while imports from the EU totalled about $10.7 billion.