European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has announced that he will be seeking approval to launch negotiations for the EU-NZ FTA, which is good news for the red meat sector.
Trade Minister Todd McClay explains he expects the NZ-European Union FTA to be formally launched later this year after the EC and New Zealand both finalised their respective negotiating mandates.
“It’s extremely important the European Commission and New Zealand have completed this next step,” says McClay.
Juncker announced in his ‘State of the Union’ address in Brussels last night that he is seeking approval to launch negotiations with both New Zealand and Australia and McClay says the EC president aims to conclude the EU-NZ FTA by late 2019.
In his speech, Juncker said he wants the EU to strengthen its European trade agenda and referred to the trade agreements already reached with Canada and Japan.
“By the end of the year, we have a good chance of doing the same with Mexico and South American countries.
“And, today we are proposing to open trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand,” he said, adding he wants them negotiated in the fullest transparency and that the Commission will be publishing in full all draft negotiating mandates proposed to the European Council of Ministers.
“An FTA will give New Zealand companies an opportunity to significantly increase trade with the EU,” says McClay.
“Two-way trade with the EU is worth more than $20 billion a year and creates thousands of jobs and opportunities for every region and city of New Zealand.”
The region is also very important for New Zealand’s red meat exports. According to Meat Industry Association statistics, in the 2016-2017 year to the end June 2017, the EU was the highest value region for New Zealand sheepmeat exports, taking $1.17 billion (117,632 tonnes, shipped weight) worth. This still includes the UK which is still a member of the 28 strong trade bloc. At $497 million, it is also the most valuable market for New Zealand’s chilled sheepmeat. Just 6,494 tonnes of New Zealand beef worth $109 million was exported to the region, because it is constrained within the World Trade Organisation agreement.
McClay says a National-led Government will be pushing for a high-quality, comprehensive FTA.
“More than 8,500 jobs are created in New Zealand by every billion dollars of exports. That means a deal with the EU that increases trade has the potential to create thousands more jobs for Kiwis.”
The European Commission will now send its negotiating mandate to the European Council. Approval is expected later this year.
Negotiations will take place alongside the trading bloc’s talks with the UK on that country’s exit from the European Union.