New Zealand's free trade deal with Europe will boost our economy by over $1 billion annually

New Zealand's relationship with Europe is closer than ever - that’s the message from the European Commission today as its leader met with our Prime Minister to witness the historic signing of the free trade deal. 

The deal is predicted to boost New Zealand's economy by more than a billion dollars per year but for the EU it's about much more than dollars and cents. 

Alongside the golden stars of the European Union, the Southern Cross was flying high on Monday and with a deal decades in the making finally in hand, the stars of the show were beaming. 

"The European-New Zealand friendship is a very strong one and a very longstanding one but in areas of trade it’s been a bit more of a bumpy road in recent times, this is a historic deal," Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.

While the European Union is New Zealand’s fourth-biggest trading partner, New Zealand is only Europe's 50th.

But with Russia's war in Ukraine and global security threatened, the EU is counting on strengthened ties as much as it’s counting the euros. 

"Despite being a world apart, we have so much in common, we are two robust democracies, with the same view of the world, and same understanding of our responsibilities, let us thank you for your steadfast support of Ukraine," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

The deal is signed but it's just not quite sealed or delivered.

"One more hurdle to go, it needs to be ratified by the parliaments on both side, the New Zealand Parliament and the European Parliament," Hipkins said.

It's a hurdle that has tripped up agreements in the past.

"We're very optimistic though of getting this deal in force though in the first half of 2024," Hipkins said.

The deal will see tariffs completely gone on 97 percent of our existing trade with the EU within seven years and exports are due to increase by up to $1.8 billion a year. 

It is exactly why the Trade Minister is trumpeting.

"This is a bloody good deal!" Trade Minister Damien O'Connor said.

Kiwi businesses, however, are singing from a slightly different song sheet.

"Okay, we win like 11 cents if you look at the tariffs haha but it's a start," Villa Maria Estate retail manager Vince Edwards said.

"It's a good deal, although for the beef, for the meat, we would have liked to have better access and volume," an ANZCO Foods spokesperson said.

"The apple industry had relatively low tariffs in the first place and most of our business is apples but across the sector, it's a really good deal," Turners and Growers CEO Gareth Edgecombe said.

The final countdown is now on to get it ratified but until then, Hipkins said it is too early to be "reaching for champagne".