Negotiating directives for free trade agreements between the European Union and Australia and New Zealand were adopted by the European Council on May 22. Formal talks are slated to begin soon.

“These agreements will build on the recent successful agreements with Canada, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, as well as Mexico among others, expanding the alliance of partners committed to open and rules-based global trade,” said the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. “Open trade must go hand in hand with open and inclusive policy making. That’s why the Commission published the draft negotiating mandates with Australia and New Zealand when it proposed to the Council to open these negotiations. These agreements will be negotiated in the greatest transparency and we expect Member States to uphold this high level of transparency.”

According to European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, the EU is close to Australia and New Zealand in terms of shared values and an open, global outlook.

“Together, we will now negotiate win-win trade deals that create new opportunities for our businesses, as well as safeguard high standards in key areas such as sustainable development,” she said. “I am looking forward to visiting Canberra and Wellington in the coming weeks to officially launch our negotiations. Starting these talks between likeminded partners sends a strong signal at a time where many are taking the easy road of protectionism.”

Australia and New Zealand are important allies and these agreements will offer significant economic gains by getting rid of obstacles and boosting trade further, according to a European Commission press release.

Malmström is slated to travel to Australia and New Zealand in June to open negotiations at the political level. The first negotiation rounds will be held in Brussels in July.