The Government is preparing to host European Union trade chief Cecilia Malmstorm in Wellington on Thursday.

Malmstrom and counterpart David Parker will formally launch negotiations for a free trade agreement although the first round of talks will take place in Brussels next month.

She will also meet Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters who was in Brussels in April.

Malmstrom, a former Swedish academic and politician who is fluent is Swedish, French, Spanish and English has been EU Trade Commissioner since November 2014.


Parker said New Zealand's "inclusive and progressive" approach to trade was in line with EU.

EU trade deals no longer have private tribunals for Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

Last month, the EU's Foreign Affairs Council approved a negotiating mandate for respective FTAs with New Zealand and Australia, the culmination of a process which began in October 2015.

Current two-way trade between New Zealand and EU countries is worth more than $20 billion, making it New Zealand's third biggest trading partner behind China and Australia.

Excluding Britain, which will be negotiating a separate FTA with New Zealand once it has left the EU, two-way trade with Europe is worth about $16 billion annually.

Malmstrom has been a leading critic of the US decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium and developed counter measures.

She has been in Australia for the past few days formally launching talks there too. She will visit Auckland on Friday.