Hiccup with Iran meat trade

Sirma Karapeeva, MIA
Sirma Karapeeva, MIA trade and economic manager.

New Zealand’s meat trade with Iran has hit a ‘bit of a hiccup’ with US President Donald Trump’s reintroduction of sanctions for the Middle Eastern country and recent Tweeted warning that countries trading with Iran could be penalised.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva says it is “unfortunate timing” as several companies are already organising shipments to the Middle Eastern country that featured in the top five destinations for New Zealand’s red meat exports in the 1980s.

Following the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the Iran Nuclear Deal – and an agreement signed by New Zealand with Iran in February last year, New Zealand’s meat exports re-opened. President Trump withdrew the US from the JCPOA in May this year, to international dismay.

In the 2017-2018 meat export season, just 125 tonnes of beef, lamb and mutton worth $1.1 million FOB was exported from New Zealand to Iran, according to Beef + Lamb NZ Economic Service figures.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters met with the European Commission vice-president Federica Mogherini yesterday in Wellington.  Amongst other matters of mutual interest – including the EU-NZ free trade agreement and the value of close cooperation in the UN and other international and regional forums – the two reiterated their strong support for the JCPOA, a key pillar of the nuclear non-proliferation architecture.

“It has been unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and has made and continues to make a vital contribution to regional peace and security,” the joint release said, adding both regretted the US decision to withdraw from JCPOA.

The EU has since advised its companies to continue trading with Iran.

The MIA, which is keeping a close eye on the matter, has been advising New Zealand meat companies thinking of doing trade with Iran to do due diligence.

“Talk to your banks and insurance companies to ensure you are covered and get some independent legal advice,” says Karapeeva.

While food and agricultural exports are covered under humanitarium goods, exporting to the market is still a risk, she says.

The biggest issues for exporters are that it will be harder to trade in US dollars and that direct shipments linked to the US will be effectively blocked from delivering to the market, she explains.

MFAT advice on ‘Doing Business With Iran’ has been updated, and advises companies get independent legal advice if contemplating or already doing business with Iran.

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