Meat & Livestock News

Optimism Tempered with Realism: The NZ-EU FTA and Its Impact on the Red Meat Sector

TL;DR: The New Zealand-European Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is seen as a pivotal yet underwhelming development for New Zealand’s red meat industry. While it promises smoother trade and enhanced cooperation, the sector views the access gains as minimal, particularly for beef exports. Industry leaders call for future negotiations to address these limitations and non-tariff barriers, aiming for a more beneficial and ambitious trade relationship.

The recent ratification of the New Zealand-European Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has been met with mixed feelings within New Zealand’s red meat sector. Recognized for facilitating trade and fostering cooperation, the FTA’s actual benefits for the industry seem to fall short of expectations, especially concerning market access for beef.

Sirma Karapeeva, the chief executive of the Meat Industry Association (MIA), highlights the significance of the EU market, which ranks as the third most important for New Zealand’s red meat exports. Despite this, the FTA’s provisions for beef have been described as “not commercially meaningful,” with the new beef quota representing a fraction of New Zealand’s annual exports and an even smaller slice of the EU’s beef consumption.

The industry’s disappointment stems from hopes for a more ambitious agreement that could match the close ties between New Zealand and the EU. The current access limits pose challenges to growth in this vital market, prompting calls for an early review and ongoing discussions to enhance the FTA’s terms.

A major concern lies with non-tariff barriers, such as the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), which the sector views as an obstacle to efficient trade. Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, criticises the EUDR for imposing unnecessary compliance burdens and not effectively addressing global deforestation.

The industry seeks to use the FTA framework to eliminate such barriers and advocate for collaborative solutions that do not disadvantage producers adhering to sustainable practices.

Despite these hurdles, the FTA marks a significant step in the long-standing relationship between New Zealand and the EU.

However, it’s clear that the red meat sector’s ambitions extend beyond the current agreement. Industry leaders emphasise the importance of trade for the sector’s future, urging for fair market access and the maintenance of high standards in food safety, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability.

The call to action is clear: while the NZ-EU FTA opens doors, there is much work to be done to ensure it fully benefits the red meat sector. Through future upgrades and negotiations, there is hope for resolving the current shortcomings and securing a trade relationship that truly reflects the partnership’s potential.