The signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between New Zealand and the UK represents a significant boost for New Zealand farmers and exporters with lamb and beef eventually allowed quota and tariff-free access into the UK for the first time in decades.
Under the FTA, New Zealand’s beef and sheepmeat exports to the UK will be fully liberalised over time, with no duties from the 16th year after the deal comes into force following ratification by both countries.
During this time, beef and sheepmeat will be subject to duty-free transitional quotas with the quota for New Zealand beef increasing in annual instalments from a starting point of 12,000 tonnes until it reaches 60,000 metric tonnes in year 15, after which it will be duty and tariff-free.
The transitional quota for sheepmeat will reach 50,000 metric tonnes per year from year five to 15 (in addition to New Zealand’s existing access of over 100,000 tonnes through its WTO quota).
Both countries have also agreed provisions covering sanitary measures and customs procedures and trade facilitation, which include provisions enabling the faster release of goods within 48 hours of arrival. For perishable goods such as chilled meat, the FTA sets out a six-hour release timeframe.
“New Zealand has not had tariff-free access into the UK since Britain joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973 so this deal will deliver a major boost for sheep and beef farmers and exporters,” says Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association (MIA).
“This FTA realises our ambitions for a high quality agreement with greater access to an important market for New Zealand beef and lamb. It is also a win for New Zealand chilled meat exports because it will ensure the produce can reach the final customer quickly and in optimum condition.
“The agreement provides a solid platform for closer co-operation between the NZ and UK red meat sectors and will help to strengthen the ties between the two countries.”
Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says sheep and beef farmers will be pleased with the outcome of the FTA, which will further strengthen New Zealand’s already diverse export base.
“This FTA will unlock value in an important market for New Zealand farmers. New Zealand’s free range, pasture-raised farming systems are highly regarded by UK consumers and the perfect complement to the United Kingdom’s northern hemisphere production season.
“New Zealand and the United Kingdom producers share a strong commitment to high production standards, particularly in important areas such as food safety and quality, animal welfare and the environment.
“The FTA represents a strong commitment from both New Zealand and UK to free trade. Its outcomes reflect tough negotiations on sensitive products for both sides but the FTA will ultimately deliver benefits for the sheep and beef sectors in both countries.”
The agreement includes a significant Animal Welfare Chapter, which recognises that while New Zealand and the UK’s production practices are substantively different, each country accords a high priority to animal welfare in those practices, which provide largely comparable outcomes and welfare protection.
The New Zealand Meat Board will be responsible for administering the transitional FTA quotas for beef and sheepmeat in line with the robust system already in place for administering the existing World Trade Organization (WTO) quotas for red meat.
Following signature, the FTA still needs to be ratified by both countries before it can come into force.