The free trade deal between New Zealand and the European Union would be worth billions of dollars to the New Zealand economy.
Following confirmation that the EU had opened the door to negotiations with New Zealand, Trade Minister David Parker said it would lead to more jobs and higher incomes for Kiwis.
"These negotiations offer significant economic gains for New Zealand and the EU," said Parker. "They are an example of like-minded countries working together at a time when the world faces a rising tide of protectionism."
The EU has estimated a trade deal could result in a $1.2 billion to $2 billion boost to New Zealand's GDP and up to a 20 per cent increased in exports.
A free-trade agreement would reduce the prices paid by New Zealand businesses at the EU border by removing import duties.
Statistics New Zealand data shows exports to the year ended December were worth $8.61 billion, with imports of $12.98b.
New Zealand's biggest exports are meat and edible offal, followed by fruit, wine, seafood and medical equipment.
New Zealand's major imports from the European Union aren't quite as appealing from a culinary perspective. Rather than food products, New Zealand's biggest imports are vehicle parts and accessories, followed by mechanical machinery, pharmaceutical products, electrical machinery and medical equipment.
Off the back of the announcement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) listed a number of objectives it hopes to achieve through the EU-NZ trade deal.
These include lower consumers, particularly when it came to food and consumer goods.
Another aim was to level the playing field for businesses in the NZ and the EU by reducing tariffs, duties and other trade barriers. This would allow for easier movement of goods between the two regions.
Mfat has also prioritised ensuring that any deal stands to benefit businesses of all sizes. Rather than focusing only on large- and medium-sized corporates, the list of objectives explicitly includes a reference to small businesses as well.
While trade is largely focused on commerce, the Government has also placed emphasis on the environment, pledging to drive economic progress in a way that protects the environment and contributes to better living conditions.
Finally, Mfat aims to safeguard New Zealand's ability to regulate and decide what's best for Kiwis and the local market.
EMA chief executive Kim Campbell said the Prime Minister and her team were to be congratulated for progressing a trade discussion that had long been considered an impossibility.
"The EU is a significant trade bloc and our exporters will welcome this move to pave the way for better access," Campbell said.
"When we hear the anti-global rhetoric of some of our larger trading partners, it makes this news even more welcome," he said.
"Trade builds prosperity and agreements such as this are key building blocks to a connected, vibrant economy."