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Daniel ThomsonJun 12, 2024 11:00:25 AM3 min read

Navigating New Opportunities: Understanding the NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement

On the 31st of May, Business Canterbury hosted an event run by ExportNZ featuring a distinguished panel of trade experts, business leaders, and exporters, providing valuable insights into the new FTA's benefits. It was supported by MFAT, MPI, NZ Customs and NZTE.

The panel discussions, led by Vangelis Vitalis, Deputy Secretary of Trade and Economic at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and H.E. Ambassador Lawrence Meredith, provided in-depth knowledge of the FTA's strategic and operational aspects. Practical experiences shared by business leaders such as David Boyd (Foot Science/ExportNZ) and Dr. Ojas Mahapatra (CEO of Fabrum) offered real-world perspectives on navigating EU markets, emphasising the importance of localised strategies and understanding cultural nuances.

Here are the key themes, takeaways, and advice for businesses to consider - 

Understanding the FTA Landscape

  • Tariff Reductions: With the FTA in place, an impressive 91% of New Zealand’s current goods trade can now enter the EU tariff-free. This equates to a tariff saving of $100 million a year, a substantial financial advantage for exporters.
  • Beyond Tariffs: The agreement extends beyond simple tariff reduction, encompassing areas such as government procurement, education services, aviation services, and investment opportunities. For businesses, this means a more comprehensive access to the EU market. 

Sector-Specific Advantages

  • Government Procurement: The FTA opens doors for New Zealand businesses to engage in government procurement processes within the EU, a market traditionally difficult to penetrate. New Zealand companies can now access tenders on which is something countries such as Australia don’t yet have access to.
  • Education and Services: New Zealand's education providers can now collaborate more closely with European counterparts, while service sectors stand to gain from enhanced market access. 
  • Aviation and Investment: The agreement facilitates greater cooperation in aviation services and broadens the scope for investment between the two regions.

Sustainable Development

An integral component of the FTA is its emphasis on sustainable development, aligning with global efforts to promote environmentally responsible trade practices. This aligns with the values of many New Zealand businesses and can be a unique selling proposition in the EU market.

Moving Forward

Businesses should approach the FTA with a proactive mindset, seeking to understand the specific implications for their industry and operations. To leverage the FTA effectively, consider the following steps: 

  1.  Conduct thorough research on the EU market and identify potential sectors for expansion. 
  2. Engage with trade experts and utilise resources provided by The Chamber to navigate the complexities of the FTA. 
  3. Foster relationships with European counterparts and explore collaborative opportunities. 
  4. Stay informed about sustainability requirements and leverage New Zealand's green reputation. 

The FTA between New Zealand and the EU is more than a trade agreement; it's a gateway to fostering a stronger, more resilient economy for Christchurch and the wider Canterbury region. Embracing this agreement requires both strategic planning and the willingness to adapt to new market conditions. 

For businesses looking to delve deeper into the FTA and explore specific opportunities, The Chamber offers a range of resources and support services. Engage with our trade advisors, participate in upcoming networking events, and access tailored advice to ensure your business is well-positioned to thrive in the EU market. 

 Together, we can harness the full potential of this landmark agreement, driving growth and prosperity for our businesses and communities. 

* Download a summary of key themes and quote from this event


Image from the event 31 May at Business Canterbury


Contact our team if you would like to learn more about this event or other events we have coming soon. Learn more about Business Canterbury can help you meet your business goals with our Global Trade Membership.


Daniel Thomson

I have almost a decade of experience as a business owner with products that have been retailed in many major retailers across Australasia and the US including Amazon, Woolworths, Torpedo7, Briscoes Group and Decathlon. As a Business and International Trade Advisor for Business Canterbury, my key focus is on supporting local importers and exporters in navigating the world of global trade. If you need support, please drop me a line.