A high quality Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement assumes even more importance for the New Zealand meat sector, following this week’s conclusion of an economic partnership agreement between Australia and Japan.
The bilateral agreement – the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement – will lower Japan’s tariffs on Australian beef products over time to about half the 38.5 per cent applied to exports from New Zealand and other countries. This will give Australian beef producers a significant advantage in the Japanese market.
“Without a comprehensive, high quality TPP, we’re now going to have a competitive disadvantage in our fifth-largest beef market, and our largest market for chilled beef. We’ve always placed a lot of importance on a successful and high quality TPP deal that removes all tariffs on our exports,” said Meat Industry Association chairman Bill Falconer.
“We’re confident that New Zealand’s negotiators are doing their best to get us there, regardless of this kind of distraction.”
Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons said the Australia-Japan deal was much less ambitious than a typical New Zealand free trade agreement and was “in a completely different league” to the ongoing TPP negotiations.
“A high quality deal means complete tariff elimination on all products of trade interest – that’s basically what New Zealand has achieved in its FTAs. It’s disappointing to see Australia and Japan not get up to that standard, particularly while we’re all in the middle of trying to finish a very high quality TPP agreement.”
The Australians have hailed the agreement with Japan, its second biggest trading partner, as “historic”. It will deliver a significant boost to Australian farmers and other agricultural producers, resource exporters, service providers and consumers, according to a release from Prime Minister Tony Abbott. It represents a major windfall for Australian beef, the country’s biggest agricultural export to Japan, currently worth $1.4 billion.