EU-UK WTO quota “deal” reports concern red meat sector

James Parsons, B+LNZ chairman.
James Parsons, B+LNZ chairman.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) are concerned by media reports that the European Union and United Kingdom have reached a “deal” to split the EU’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariff-rate-quotas (TRQs) following Brexit.

“Given the importance of the EU and UK for New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports, stability and certainty is vital,” says James Parsons, chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.  “The TRQs form part of the EU’s WTO commitments and are legally binding rights and obligations.

“The New Zealand sheep and beef industry is not seeking windfall gains from the Brexit process,” says Parsons.  “However, we cannot contemplate a situation where the quality or quantity of New Zealand’s existing WTO market access rights with the European Union or the United Kingdom are eroded.”

According to John Loughlin, MIA chairman, media reports that the EU and UK are planning to propose splitting the quotas would erode the quality of this access. “We would lose the flexibility to respond to changes in demand for sheepmeat and beef across the EU28, aiding market stability, which is in the interests of both producers and consumers.

“The New Zealand red meat sector is open to creative and mutually acceptable solutions that would work for the UK, EU, and fully preserve the WTO rights of New Zealand and other quota holders.  The key is full and proper consultation with New Zealand and all those other WTO Members with an interest in the TRQs,” he comments.

“We trust that the UK and EU will work with their trading partners in an open-minded and constructive fashion to find a solution that works to fully honour their legal obligations regarding their existing market access commitments to third countries.”

* The European Union currently takes about half of New Zealand’s total global sheepmeat exports and all of these exports currently enter the EU duty-free.  Without this duty-free access no exports would take place as the out-of-quota tariff rate is a prohibitive 50 percent.

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