This comes amid reports that the UK and the EU have reached a preliminary deal on sharing out the tariff rate quotas for the importing of farm produce into the EU from countries outside. According to the Financial Times, the proposed deal would not expand overall quotas or market access.
This has led to complaints from the US, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Uruguay, Thailand and New Zealand.
‘Erode’ market access
According to the two bodies, the EU currently takes about half of New Zealand’s total global sheepmeat exports and all of these exports currently enter the EU duty-free. They said that without this duty-free access, no exports would take place, as the out-of-quota tariff rate was a prohibitive 50%.
James Parsons, chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, said a deal like this could “erode” New Zealand’s access.
“Given the importance of the European Union and United Kingdom for New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports, stability and certainty is vital. The tariff rate quotas form part of the EU’s WTO commitments and are legally binding rights and obligations.
“The New Zealand sheep and beef industry is not seeking windfall gains from the Brexit process,” said Parsons. “However, we cannot contemplate a situation where the quality or quantity of New Zealand’s existing WTO market access rights with the European Union or the United Kingdom are eroded.”
NZ open to ‘creative solutions’
John Loughlin, chairman of the New Zealand Meat Industry Association, added: “Media reports that the EU and the UK are planning to propose splitting the quotas would erode the quality of this access as we would lose the flexibility to respond to changes in demand for sheepmeat and beef across the EU28, aiding market stability, which is in the interests of both producers and consumers.
“The New Zealand red meat sector is open to creative and mutually acceptable solutions that would work for the UK, the EU, and fully preserve the WTO rights of New Zealand and other quota holders. The key is full and proper consultation with New Zealand and all those other WTO members with an interest in the tariff rate quotas.
“We trust that the UK and the EU will work with their trading partners in an open-minded and constructive fashion to find a solution that works to fully honour their legal obligations regarding their existing market access commitments to third countries.”