New Zealand red meat sector concerned by reports of ‘weak’ EU agricultural supply
The red meat industry is concerned about reports of a proposed shoddy European Union (EU) agricultural access offer to New Zealand.
The impending end-June deadline for reaching an agreement in principle was also a cause for concern.
EU trade ministers were due to meet this week to consider the revised formal offer to New Zealand.
However, the kiwi red meat sector was concerned that the EU’s ‘ambition rhetoric’ would not be followed in the deal, said Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association. .
This was due to the poor quality of past market access offers and recent trade information, she said.
“If these reports are true, New Zealand red meat exporters would continue to face a level playing field in the EU.”
“We are not prepared to support a deal that provides limited access for our red meat to this important market and an outcome that is simply not credible.”
The EU has expressed its ambition for a broad, world-class trade deal, Karapeeva said.
“As a long-time trading partner with shared values and commitment to high standards, we would be extremely disappointed if the quality of the market access outcome did not reflect this.”
Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, said agricultural protectionism sends “a negative signal” to trading partners.
McIvor said this was in “sharp contrast” to statements by the European Commission on the importance of liberalizing and opening up trade – particularly at a time when food security is a global concern.
“While New Zealand and the EU have a long trading history, we are one of the few countries that does not have an FTA with the EU, which puts us in a society similar to Russia, the Iran, Pakistan and India.
“This puts us at a significant disadvantage compared to EU FTA partners, and does not reflect the close friendship and trusted partnership between New Zealand and the EU.”
New Zealand and the EU share common societal values, a commitment to high production standards and strong regulatory frameworks for food safety and quality, animal welfare and sustainability, McIvor said.
“In this regard, an ambitious, high-quality trade agreement between our two governments is a natural choice – anything less is difficult to reconcile.”
New Zealand’s current beef market access to the EU is severely restricted by a TRQ of 846 tonnes with a 20% in-quota tariff.
Exports outside this quota are subject to customs duties of 12.8% of the value in addition to €171.3 to €311.8 per 100 kg; in fact, it can amount to a 50% customs duty.
Karapeeva said the small quota and high over-quota tariff made it nearly impossible for exporters to form commercially meaningful relationships and build a stable beef trade to the EU.
“Keeping a small quota with an in-quota tariff will do nothing to foster business opportunities and growth to meet consumer demand,” she said.
“We urge the New Zealand government to show leadership and reject any substandard agricultural access offers.”