Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) have welcomed Trade Minister Todd McClay’s announcement that New Zealand will start free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with members of the Pacific Alliance trade bloc, including Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
“In the recently-less-certain trade environment, this is a very positive development,” says Sam McIvor, B+LNZ (chief executive).
“We appreciate the Government’s continued leadership on trade liberalisation which is vital to our sector as approximately 90 percent of our sheepmeat and 83 percent percent of beef production is exported,” he says.
While sheep and beef exports to this region are currently relatively modest (approximately $22 million in 2016), MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie says these are fast-growing economies.
“Our companies see good potential to grow our exports in the future under an FTA. Mexico, for example has tariffs of 25 percent on beef and 10 percent on sheepmeat,” he says.
“We understand that the Pacific Alliance is interested in building a closer relationship with the Asia-Pacific and this positions New Zealand strategically very well to be a bridge in this wider process.”
Minister McClay, who made the announcement from the Pacific Alliance Summit in Colombia following a meeting with the Presidents of Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru, says the better market access and lower tariffs will be of real value to New Zealand exporters.
“This is a big win in the fight for better access for New Zealanders to important overseas markets. We’ve worked hard for trade talks with the Pacific Alliance over the last two years and today’s announcement will be welcome news for our exporters.
“A high quality FTA will open the door for New Zealand companies to do more business with the Pacific Alliance countries and increase the $1.1 billion of two-way trade we currently have with them.”
He noted the Pacific Alliance is a grouping of fast-growing, like-minded economies committed to the liberalisation of trade.
“Between them they have more than 221 million consumers and a combined GDP of US$3.85 trillion, which is equivalent to the world’s sixth largest economy,” he said.
“Negotiating a high-quality FTA with the Pacific Alliance will also help the Government reach its ambitious Trade Agenda 2030 target of covering 90 percent of our goods trade under FTAs by 2030.”