Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association welcome the successful completion of joint scoping discussions towards an EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA) announced by Minister McClay in Brussels.
Trade liberalisation, including through FTAs, creates a stable and level playing field on which to compete and it’s hugely important to the growth and future prosperity of the sheep and beef sector and New Zealand as a whole, the two organisations say.
“The completion of the scoping discussions is a significant step towards launching EU-NZ FTA negotiations this year,” Sam McIvor, B+LNZ chief executive says.
The EU is a very important market for New Zealand red meat products, worth over NZ$1.8 billion in the year ended December 2016.
His comments follow news yesterday Minister for Trade Todd McClay, that he and EU trade commissioner Cecelia Malmström had agreed the scoping discussions in Brussels on Tuesday.
This means the FTA process enters a new phase, where the Commission and New Zealand will seek respective mandate to commence negotiations as soon as possible in 2017, explained McClay.
“New Zealand the EU both recognise there are substantial benefits to be gained from free trade and we are now one step closer to a high-quality, comprehensive FTA that can deliver great outcomes for our citizens.”
McClay and Malmström also agreed officials should look to engage the public on trade issues and the Commissioner has accepted an invitation from McClay to visit New Zealand later with this year.
The EU is New Zealand’s largest market by region for sheepmeat exports and second-largest for chilled beef and wool exports. It takes New Zealand’s highest quality and value cuts.
Tim Ritchie, Meat Industry Association chief executive notes that: “New Zealand still faces a range of significant tariff and non-tariff barriers into this market. New Zealand pays approximately NZ$60 million in tariffs per year on its red meat exports to the EU.
“In addition, a number of competitors in this market have already reached free trade agreements with the EU, such as Canada,” he says.
New Zealand has long established relationships with the European red meat sector. Its red meat exports complement seasonal production in Europe so customers can buy high-quality red meat all year around.
“We look forward to working with the New Zealand Government and European organisations to generate new opportunities for agricultural and food producers under an EU-NZ FTA,” McIvor says.