EU Australia trade
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — Representatives from the European Union and Australia gathered earlier this week in Canberra, Australia, to discuss a potential agreement that could pave the way to broader trade in goods and services between the two regions.

The talks follow the E.U.’s earlier trade discussions with Japan, Mexico and Canada — all of which are part of the E.U.’s agenda for open and fair trade across the world.

“I look forward to adding Australia to our ever-expanding circle of like-minded trade partners,” said Cecilia Malmström, the E.U.’s Commissioner for Trade. “In challenging times, it is heartening to see that Australia shares our commitment to a positive trade agenda, and to the idea that good trade agreements are a win for both sides. The result of our negotiations will be an agreement that offers clear benefits for both the E.U. and Australia. It will boost economic opportunity for businesses, both big and small, and create jobs.”

The first round of formal talks regarding opening up trade will take place July 2-6 in Brussels.

As one of the world’s fastest growing developed economies, Australia has expanded its network of trading partners through trade agreements. The country recently negotiated the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership with 10 other countries in the Pacific region.

A potential E.U.-Australia agreement would allow European companies to compete on a level playing field with companies from those countries with which Australia already has trade agreements, the European Commission said.

The E.U. is currently Australia’s second-largest trading partner, accounting for nearly €48 billion in trade last year. Transport equipment, machinery and appliances, chemicals, food and services make up the majority of the E.U.’s exports to Australia, the European Commission noted. Meanwhile, bilateral trade in services is about €28 billion.