Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) welcome the announcement that 15 of the 16 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) members have agreed the text of the agreement and essentially all their market access issues.
B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the announcement constitutes an important milestone in the negotiations.
“RCEP represents a significant portion of the world’s economy and we expect that this will continue to grow with the increased cooperation and trade between countries that are signatories to the agreement. It is also an opportunity for New Zealand to consolidate and improve upon the already strong trade relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
“While we are disappointed that India is not yet a signatory to this deal, we hope that over time they will come to see the benefits that it offers and will join the agreement in the future.”
Sixteen countries are involved with RCEP: the 10 countries of ASEAN – Brunei-Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam plus the six countries with which ASEAN has free trade agreements – Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand. These six countries are known as the ASEAN free trade partners.
The agreement also benefits New Zealand as a whole, McIvor says.
“Trade is an important driver of productivity, employment and incomes. One in every four New Zealanders in work today depends on exports for their livelihoods. Exports from our sector support 80,000 jobs and families across the country, particularly in our regions.”
Tim Ritchie, chief executive of the MIA, New Zealand’s largest manufacturing sector, says the New Zealand red meat sector already has a significant volume of trade with RCEP economies and the industry was looking forward to further growth.
“We also remain hopeful that India will eventually join the agreement so the trade deal can fulfil its potential. India presents major opportunities for New Zealand meat exporters with expected future growth in the country’s population, rising disposable incomes and an increasing demand for improved food quality.”
The red meat sector is highly supportive of the Government’s efforts to liberalise trade and concluding this agreement is a significant step forward in our efforts to reduce tariffs and non-trade barriers worldwide.”