The European Union and New Zealand have completed negotiations for a free trade agreement that could boost goods and services business between the two partners by 30 per cent.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made the announcement after a meeting in Brussels with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the latter saying it had taken 14 years since the idea of such a deal was first floated.

Free trade negotiations began in mid-2018 and, for the EU, the deal will put the bloc’s trade with New Zealand on a par with countries that already have a trade pact with New Zealand, notably those of the 11-member CPTPP Asia-Pacific deal.

The EU is New Zealand’s third largest trading partner, after China and Australia, accounting for 11.5 per cent of the country’s total trade, according to commission figures.

The agreement will remove tariffs on a wide range of products and be the first struck by the EU that includes the possibility of sanctions if either side flouts environmental or labour standards, plans for which were only outlined last week.

Tariffs will fall for EU exports such as pork, wine, chocolate, sugar confectionary and biscuits. 

The EU will open up to more dairy products and beef from New Zealand, a sensitive area for some EU countries.

“It’s probably fair to say that no one likes it so we must have got it about right,” New Zealand trade minister Damien O’Connor said, half-joking, when asked about the compromises made during a tough final stage of negotiations.