MIA Matters: trade is the lifeblood for the red meat sector

Last [FoodNZ] issue, this column talked about the importance of having stable and predictable market access into as many markets as possible and industry’s support for government’s refresh of trade policy. This time, Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Tim Ritchie looks at some of the trade-related uncertainty ahead in major markets, but also at some potentially significant opportunities.

 Earlier this year, the incoming US administration made the decision to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). This was particularly disappointing for the meat industry, as the TPP would have delivered around $72 million in tariff savings per year, levelled the playing field for our exports in key markets such as Japan and introduced provisions to make trade easier among the TPP countries.

However, the recent TPP Ministerial meeting in Chile included an important affirmation of ongoing support for regional economic integration in the Asia-Pacific and a commitment for TPP Ministers to meet again to talk about the way forward for the agreement. This is a positive sign and MIA encourages Government to continue to pursue its trade liberalisation agenda.

Across the Atlantic, the process for the UK to withdraw from the EU has begun. While this process runs its course, particularly the negotiations on the trade arrangement between the UK and EU, there will be a level of uncertainty for meat exports into both markets.

Both the UK and the remaining EU27 are major high-value markets for our industry, so we are taking an active interest in the process, particularly as New Zealand and the EU have successfully completed joint scoping discussions towards an EU-NZ FTA. We are also exploring opportunities to collaborate and build stronger partnerships with processors and producers in both the EU and UK.

Opportunities as well

While these developments have created a degree of uncertainty for the meat industry in some of our major markets, there are also some potentially significant opportunities in other parts of the world.

I recently accompanied the Primary Industries Minister on his visit to Iran. During the visit, the Ministry for Primary Industries signed an arrangement with the Iranian Veterinary Organisation setting out sanitary provisions for New Zealand exporters to be able to send meat to Iran.

While some of the technical details still need to be resolved before exports can take place, it is an important step in re-establishing trade into a market that in the mid-1980s took nearly 30 percent of New Zealand’s sheepmeat exports.

MIA also recently visited Indonesia to participate in a halal trade, manufacturing and logistic event and meet with key government and industry organisations. Indonesia is an important beef market, but trade restrictions over the last five years have made it a difficult market to deal with.

The Indonesian government’s recent removal of some restrictions, and New Zealand’s success in its WTO case against Indonesia, has led to a more stable trading environment which is an important step in re-establishing relationships in the market. While the importation of Indian buffalo meat is having some impact on the Indonesian market, the MIA heard that New Zealand beef is valued and is consistently seen as high quality.

In summary, trade is the lifeblood of our sector and our sector will continue to look maintain and improve access into existing markets, while at the same time pursuing opportunities develop or re-open trade into other markets.

This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (April/May 2017) and is reproduced here with permission.


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