Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb says the commitment between Australia and the European Union (EU) to work towards the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a major step forward in unlocking exciting new trade and investment opportunities in Europe.

In a joint statement released overnight Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, President of the European Council Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to commence work aimed at launching negotiations, adding that an FTA ‘will support sustainable growth and investment, open up new commercial opportunities and promote innovation and employment in Australia and the EU.’

“This is a significant step towards expanding our trade, investment and economic links with the EU.  Having concluded landmark trade deals with Korea, Japan and China, along with negotiations for the 12-country Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the EU is certainly the next frontier when it comes to future agreements,” Mr Robb said.

Australia and the EU will now undertake respective domestic consultative processes and will begin bilateral discussions on the next steps to launch negotiations.

To inform these discussions, Mr Robb said the government is inviting input from interested individuals and groups.

“We welcome submissions from stakeholders, including the business community, the non-government sector and the general community, on the potential opportunities and impacts from a future FTA with the EU,” Mr Robb said.

Of particular interest is information on existing barriers to trade and investment in the EU and the commercial significance of these issues.

The EU bloc represents Australia’s second largest trading partner with two-way trade exceeding $80 billion; more than 12 per cent of our total trade.

Details on how to lodge a submission are available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s website

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