MIA Matters: important trade developments in recent months

Tim Ritchie says there are some significant trade opportunities ahead.

Recent months have seen some important trade developments for the meat industry, including the resumption of trade with Iran, a step towards improving the meat industry’s access into China, and a refresh of the Government’s trade policy strategy, writes Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Tim Ritchie.

In February, Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy witnessed the signing of a meat arrangement between the Iranian Veterinary Organisation and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), providing the conditions for chilled and frozen sheep and beef exports to resume with Iran.

MIA member company Taylor Preston is the first company to re-start exports to Iran under the new arrangement, with an initial shipment of 60 tonnes of frozen lamb.

This is a small start, and a fraction of the volumes that were being exported in the mid-1980s when Iran was taking more than 120,000 tonnes of sheepmeat from New Zealand annually. However, it is an important step in re-commencing trade with a major global meat importer.

While Iran was one of the industry’s largest markets some 30 years ago, this position is now occupied by China.

During the Chinese Premier’s visit to New Zealand in March, a Memorandum of Cooperation between MPI and its Chinese counterpart AQSIQ was signed allowing for the export of chilled meat to China on a trial basis.

Under the trial, 10 processing establishments will be allowed to export chilled beef and lamb to China for a period of six months, and if the trial is successful, permission to export chilled meat will be extended to all China-approved plants.

Gaining access for high-value chilled meat into China has been a high priority for MIA members for a number of years. While the industry would have preferred that all China-listed plants have access, the trial is a step in the right direction to opening up the markets. It provides the opportunity to demonstrate to Chinese authorities the integrity of the New Zealand systems and industry’s chilled export programmes, which have been continually refined over the last 30 years. The trial is also an opportunity to with Chinese partners to grow the trade in a sustainable way, as has been done in Europe.

Industry is working with MPI to ensure the necessary administrative processes are in place to enable to trial to commence as soon as possible.

The announcement of the trial of chilled exports to China came a week after the Government launched its refreshed trade policy strategy, ‘Trade Agenda 2030’.

MIA is very supportive of Trade Agenda 2030, as it provides a good balance between the free trade agreement agenda and tackling non-tariff barriers (NTBs). We welcome the additional resources for MPI and MFAT to tackle NTBs. This is a clear signal of the importance the government is placing on this issue which is also a high priority for the meat industry.

The MIA has been invited to be part of the Ministerial Advisory Group on Trade, set up as part of Trade Agenda 2030 as a mechanism for focused, high-level consultations across a wide range of sectors.

This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (June/July 2017) and is reproduced here with permission.

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