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Hungarian FM urges NZ, Aussie trade deals

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/02/2017 Pattrick Smellie

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto. © Rex Images Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto. The European Union should try to complete new free trade agreements with New Zealand and Australia separately, but at the same time, the Hungarian foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, told the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs at Parliament on Friday.

Proving that it was able to sign FTAs was one of a number of things the EU needed to be able to prove to the rest of the world if it was to become more successful.

"Australia and New Zealand are not a bloc. They are separate negotiations, but I hope they can be completed at the same pace," he said.

EU-NZ FTA talks are on the agenda, but are taking longer to kick off than New Zealand trade negotiators would like. "That would be very advantageous for the EU to sign both FTAs."

Mr Szijjarto described a fear in Europe that Britain, which is now talking up its ambition to sign new post-EU trade deals, would be able to do so more quickly and reliably than a slow-moving EU.

While he hoped the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and EU might still take place, despite the failure of an Asia-Pacific version, the Trans Pacific Partnership, Mr Szijjarto said the TTIP negotiations had suffered from excessive secrecy that had undermined public support for trade deals.

"Now I have to fight in my country for FTAs because of the secrecy, because it created a feeling that something wrong is going on."

While he was "pretty certain" no other member states would leave the EU, as the United Kingdom voted to do in its 'Brexit' referendum last year, he said it was vital that member states also take back power and influence from the capital of EU affairs, in Brussels, if the EU project was to progress.

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