EU and Australian leaders voice support for new free trade agreement

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Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has been discussing the prospect of a new EU-Australian trade agreement with several European leaders.

Leading ministers from Australia and Europe have met to discuss their mutual interest in a new free trade agreement between the regions.

The Australian prime minister has held strategic trade and security meetings in Brussels with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, with EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom also in attendance.

The meeting was a positive one, with both sides expressing confidence that formal negotiations over a revamped trade agreement can begin soon - an important development, given all parties' shared concerns over the recent rise of protectionist sentiments.

This came after Mr Turnbull also visited German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin earlier this week, during which the ministers also voiced their mutual support for a trade deal between Australia and Europe.

Mr Turnbull said: "This has great benefits, as I discussed yesterday in Berlin, for both sides and are we looking forward to the commencement of negotiations. Trade means jobs, after all."