New Zealand’s food and beverage industry has come out strongly against the possibility of a trans-continental trade agreement that does not fully abolish tariffs in the farm and food sector.
A coalition of 18 food and agricultural bodies has written to the Ministry of Trade and the Ministry of Primary Industries saying that it will not support a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that does not eliminate agricultural and seafood duties.
The TPP is a proposed trade agreement under negotiation by Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.
Among the TPP’s goals is the intention to enhance trade and investment among the partner countries, promote innovation, economic growth and development, and support the creation and retention of jobs
Led by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and dairy giant Fonterra, the coalition has expressed concern that the Kiwi government might agree to a TPP where some member countries, like Japan and Canada, will get exemptions from removing tariffs on some products.
Ken Geard, a trade policy consultant at Fonterra, said that the coalition wants a ministerial meeting likely to be held in February to be concluded in a way that meets New Zealand's objectives.
“You do have countries in this agreement saying we don't want to include certain products. There are certainly elements in Japan, in the Japanese diet resolution, who talk about excluding five specific products, including dairy and meat,” he pointed out.
Geard warned that if one country is allowed to claim exemptions for sensitive products others will follow.
Tracey Paterson, trade policy manager at Beef + Lamb New Zealand, echoed Geard’s views, saying that such a move would hamper New Zealand's competitiveness on overseas markets.