On the eve of Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor’s visit to the UK and Europe, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) say the negotiations are an opportunity for both Britain and the EU to prove their trade credentials.
“If the quality and ambition continues to fall short, there will have to be questions asked about the benefit to New Zealand – and if you can’t conclude a Free Trade Agreement with us, then who?” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.
“There remains a significant gap between ambition and what is currently on offer so this is where the rubber hits the road.”
Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, says the importance of the agreement to New Zealand’s red meat sector cannot be overstated.
“Improved access to the UK and the EU markets for our products, including sheepmeat, beef and co-products such as pet food, leather and processed meats, will provide significant returns to our sector.”
New Zealand farmers and exporters will especially be seeking improvements to beef access as part of the negotiations.
“We have strong historical ties with customers in both markets and have been exporting high-quality, safe and sustainable products there for nearly 140 years. However, New Zealand’s beef access is limited by a small quota with a high in-quota tariff and we will be looking for significant improvements in this area.
“Consumers in the UK and the EU have high expectations for how their food is produced and care deeply about how their food is produced.
“As suppliers of high quality, safe and sustainable red meat, New Zealand is an exemplary partner for those markets.”
Mr McIvor says although British farmers may have some concerns about an FTA with New Zealand, there are benefits for both sides.
“Our production seasons complement each other so this ensures consumers have access all year round to high-quality and nutritious food that has been raised to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards.
“This helps maintain market stability and prices that benefit producers and consumers in both the UK and New Zealand. New Zealand has demonstrated that it is a responsible trader. Companies maintain strong relationships with customers across our markets and supply products according to demand and market prices.”
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