Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy recently returned from a nine day trade mission in South America, visiting Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Colombia.
For New Zealand, exporting meat to South America is a little like ‘sending coal to Newcastle’, but there are many synergies between the nations that the Minister was keen to highlight, along with trading opportunities, during his meetings.
In Brazil, the “giant of South America”, he met with Brazilian agriculture minister Mendes Ribeiro Filho in the country’s capital, Brasilia, outlining the expertise, innovation and efficiency which characterises New Zealand’s agricultural sector.
“With New Zealand’s world-leading expertise and Brazil’s land and location, there are plenty of opportunities for our countries to collaborate and work closely together,” he said, adding that he had stressed the two countries should work in partnership as agricultural exporters to reduce trade barriers and ease trade restrictions.
An agreement was made between the two to reduce trade costs and barriers, including tariffs between the two countries.
“We have directed officials to work towards mutual recognition of accreditation schemes for our food products. This is a sensible step that cuts costs and delays for New Zealand food exporters.”
New Zealand investment in Brazil is estimated to have reached $350 million, with the majority of this being in the agribusiness sector, said the Minister. “While this is a good start, there is amazing potential,” adding that he has invited his Brazilian counterpart to New Zealand to give him a better understanding of what New Zealand has to offer.
Brazil took 44 tonnes of New Zealand meat, mainly sheepmeat, worth $503,987 in the year to end December 2013.
In Colombia, he and Colombian counterpart Andres Felipe, Garcia Azuero issued a joint statement agreeing to look for areas of strategic co-operation between the two countries.
Guy expressed his desire to see deeper co-operation with Colombia through sharing New Zealand’s knowledge and technology.
“We have a proven track record of lifting productivity at the farm gate through innovation, technology and modern farming practises,” he said, adding that New Zealand’s currently produces almost four times as much milk per cow than is produced in Colombia, “which is why they want to tap into our skills and expertise.”
According to the Minister, Colombia is an important strategic partner for New Zealand. “With an abundance of natural resources, fertile soils with untapped potential, a well-educated and young workforce and a population of 46 million, Colombia is on track to become South America’s second largest economy.”
With a forecast growth of five percent a year over the next decade, it is in new Zealand’s interest to develop a close partnership, the Minister says. “A partnership with Colombia offers opportunities for New Zealand companies to enter into joint ventures and offers significant potential to increase our exports of agricultural services.”
Both sides acknowledged the important work of the Global Research Alliance, of which both countries are members. The Alliance works to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from food production while increasing agricultural productivity.
The Minister was excited to hear that a group of 150 Colombian farmers are interested in visiting New Zealand later this year, which will give this country the opportunity to showcase what New Zealand agriculture has to offer, he said.
In the year to end December 2012, over $79,000 of New Zealand hides and skins were exported to Colombia.