The EU and New Zealand have started the process for negotiations to achieve a deep and comprehensive high-quality Free Trade Agreement.

A statement from the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission and the New Zealand Prime Minister said that they are to agree to further deepen political, security, trade and investment relations.

Discussions to define the scope and overall approach to any free trade agreement is to start as soon as possible. In parallel with this, they agreed to take steps to seek the necessary authorisation for the negotiations on the basis of a successful scoping, the statement said.

The EU Presidents and New Zealand prime minister believes that a Free Trade Agreement will support sustainable growth and investment, opening up new trade and business opportunities and generating new employment for our peoples.

They welcomed the achievements in customs and animal health issues, and agreed to keep working to improve regulatory and other practical cooperation between the two.

Both the EU and New Zealand reaffirmed their commitment to secure an internationally legally-binding climate change agreement at COP21 in Paris which is ambitious, effective, durable, fair, transparent and dynamic.

The progress in the phase-out of environmentally harmful subsidies, including those applied to fossil fuels is supported by both the EU and New Zealand.

"Our exchanges today demonstrate the depth and breadth of our partnership and our ambition to bring the EU and New Zealand even closer together.

"This vision for our future relations will strengthen the ties between us and create opportunities for greater growth, sustainable development and security," the statement said.