Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ Ltd) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) have reiterated the importance of at least maintaining the quality and quantity of current market access into the European Union and the United Kingdom, following the UK triggering of Article 50.
Overnight, the United Kingdom (UK) triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, beginning the process of exiting the European Union (EU).
“Under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, the quantity and quality of New Zealand’s sheep and beef access into both the European Union and United Kingdom cannot be eroded as a result of this process,” says James Parsons, B+LNZ chairman.
A key component of the quality of New Zealand’s access is the flexibility the industry has in deciding whether to export to the United Kingdom or European Union depending on market conditions.
“We are pleased there have been statements by the UK that its intention is that trading partners should be no worse off as a result of Brexit,” he says.
“This is one of the most important market access issues our industry has faced in recent years,” says John Loughlin, chairman of the MIA.
“The important thing to remember is that the UK’s negotiations with the EU are likely to take at least two years under the Lisbon Treaty.”
The EU28 currently takes nearly 50 percent of New Zealand’s total global sheepmeat exports, worth almost $1.3 billion. Of that, nearly half goes to the UK. The EU is also a highly valuable market for beef despite access being significantly constrained by small levels of current access. Consumers in these markets prefer New Zealand’s highest value lamb and beef cuts.
All of these exports currently enter the EU under quotas bound in the EU’s WTO schedule. Without this quota, access there would be virtually no sheep or beef exports to the EU or UK as the out of quota tariff rates are so high.
“The sheep and beef industry will continue to work closely with the New Zealand government over the next couple of years as this process unfolds,” says Loughlin.
No doubt, the topic will be to the fore of the Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy’s visit to Europe this week, where he has been meeting with his European and British counterparts and also addressing the Forum for the Future of Agriculture in Brussels, Belgium.
The trip would build on New Zealand’s close ties with Europe and the UK, he said.
“These relationships are increasingly important to us as we work towards a free trade agreement with the European Union and, longer-term forge a new agreement for our trade with the UK following its departure from the EU.”
He is visiting Lithuania, Belgium, the UK and Ireland for a wide range of meetings with government and industry representatives. He also delivered a keynote address to the Forum for the Future of Agriculture which brings together key agricultural interests from across Europe to discuss challenges facing the agriculture sector.
He will also be highlighting that New Zealand has announced it is to open an embassy in Dublin, as part of the Government’s Trade Agenda 2030 and meet with a range of farming groups, including the British National Farmers Union and Farmers Club while in the UK.