15 Asia-Pacific nations have ‘virtually’ signed the deal, including New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor alongside counterparts from China, Japan, Korea, ten South-East Asian countries and Australia.
India, which had participated in the process until the end of last year, was not able to conclude an acceptable market access outcome and so will not join the deal at this stage.
B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor said the agreement will help to deepen cooperation and strengthen trade in the region.
“This dynamic region accounts for one-third of the world’s economy and will clearly be at the centre of global economic rebuilding as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. It should help the New Zealand red meat sector build on the strong connections we already enjoy with countries in the Asia-Pacific.
“We are disappointed that India has not been able to come aboard the deal for now – we see a lot of untapped potential in our trade relationship. We hope that over time they will come to see the mutual benefits that RCEP offers and will decide to join the agreement.
“Ensuring a strong framework of trade deals around the world will help support a resilient red meat sector and the broader New Zealand economy at a time of global turbulence. Trade supports 92,000 jobs in the red meat sector across the country, particularly in our regions. This helps achieve a more predictable and secure trade environment for all.”
Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, which represents New Zealand’s largest manufacturing sector, said the RCEP countries were important export destinations for the New Zealand red meat industry, and welcomed the improvements in market access under the deal.
“The agreement helps to streamline trade rules around the region. COVID-19 has shown just how important it is to keep supply chains functioning and trade flowing smoothly.
“We also remain hopeful that India will eventually join RCEP to help turbocharge the gains from the agreement. India presents major opportunities for New Zealand meat exporters, given its forecast population growth and an expanding middle class keen to access high-quality food.
“The red meat sector is supportive of the Government’s efforts to liberalise trade and this agreement sends a powerful signal about the region’s commitment to that goal.”
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