NZ-UK FTA ‘significant boost’ for farmers

The signing of a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the United Kingdom represents a "significant boost" for New Zealand farmers and exporters, the Meat Industry Association says.

Lamb and beef would eventually be allowed quota- and tariff-free access for the first time in decades, it said.

Under the FTA, New Zealand’s beef and sheepmeat exports to the UK would be fully liberalised over time, with no duties from the 16th year after the deal came into force following ratification by both countries.

During this time, beef and sheepmeat would be subject to duty-free transitional quotas, the quota for New Zealand beef rising in annual instalments from a starting point of 12,000 tonnes until it reaches 60,000 metric tonnes in year 15, after which it would be duty- and tariff-free.

The transitional quota for sheepmeat would reach 50,000 metric tonnes per year from year five to 15 (in addition to New Zealand’s existing access of more than 100,000 tonnes through its WTO quota).

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said New Zealand had not had tariff-free access into the UK since Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973.

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand was looking forward to tariff-free dairy trade after five years.

The UK was the world’s second-largest dairy import market but, over the past 49 years, New Zealand exporters had participation significantly curtailed by serious tariff disadvantages compared with EU competitors, chairman Malcolm Bailey said.

Last year, New Zealand supplied less than 1% of UK dairy imports. The end point of tariff elimination for all dairy products after five years would provide a long-awaited level playing field for New Zealand dairy exporters, Mr Bailey said.

The agreement would provide new trade opportunities for New Zealand dairy exporters "from day one". All dairy products except butter and cheese reached the point of duty-free trade over three years.

For butter and cheese, transitional quotas would provide commercially meaningful access during the five-year transitional tariff elimination period.

Onion growers and exporters also welcomed the news, which coincided with the start of the export season. New Zealand exports $9 million worth of onions to the UK annually.

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