NZ continues push to protect post-Brexit quotas

David Parker
David Parker.

The Government is leaving no stone unturned to protect New Zealand’s quota access into the EU and the UK post-Brexit, says Minister of Trade and Export Growth David Parker.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raised the issue with UK Prime Minister Theresa May and with EU leaders during her meetings in London and Brussels last week.

Other ministers and our officials have raised this matter at every opportunity with EU and UK leaders since the issue first emerged in late 2017.

It will also be discussed with EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan when he visits New Zealand soon.

“We are working hard to hold them to the assurances they have given us that New Zealand will not be left worse off as a result of Brexit,” David Parker says.

Trade-rate quotas (TRQs) set the amount of New Zealand goods, such as sheepmeat and butter, that we can export into the EU at a lower tariff. At issue is how the EU and the UK will set the TRQs when the UK splits from the EU.

Speculation about the proposals the EU and the UK were developing to split TRQs in a way that would reduce access for countries including New Zealand first arose in late 2017.

New Zealand with six other concerned World Trade Organisation (WTO) members wrote formally to the EU and the UK in September 2017 outlining the reasons why this approach was unacceptable.

“We have and will continue to fight this proposal and encourage the EU and the UK to re-think their approach.  It’s important we find a mutually acceptable solution that will not leave our exporters disadvantaged,” Parker says.

Last July, New Zealand lodged a formal objection to these proposals as part of the EU consultation process as it formulated the regulation passed last week by the EU Parliament.

Those proposals and the submission lodged by New Zealand and other concerned WTO Members can be found at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/initiatives/com-2018-312_en.

In October, along with a large number of other WTO Members, New Zealand lodged a claim of interest at the WTO in Geneva to defend its existing quota access.

“At the same time, we lodged an objection to the UK’s proposal for similar cut-backs to its WTO quota commitments. Again a large number of WTO Members did likewise,” Parker says.

“We have also been active in raising these concerns in the relevant WTO bodies.”

The Minister says it is particularly disappointing at this time of rising trade tensions to see partners who are usually defenders of the multilateral rules based trading system, acting unilaterally in a way that undermines the binding commitments for quota access that other WTO Members have negotiated hard and in good faith for in previous decades.

“Nevertheless, the Government is committed to working with the EU and the UK to resolve these issues in a mutually satisfactory manner.

“This is our priority Brexit trade issue and we have not ruled out any options for pursuing an outcome that makes sure our exporters are no worse off.”

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