EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström and New Zealand’s Minister of Trade Tim Groser met in Brussels on 29 October to discuss the potential FTA.
“New Zealand is a close partner of Europe that shares our values and views. I am committed to strengthen this partnership by working towards an ambitious trade agreement,” said Malmström.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the New Zealand Meat Industry Association said they were delighted because the European Union is a very significant export market for New Zealand red meat products, worth nearly NZ$1.9 billion for the year ended December 2014. The EU is New Zealand’s largest market by region for sheep meat exports, and second-largest for chilled beef and wool exports.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons said New Zealand still faced a range of significant tariff and non-tariff barriers in this market. New Zealand pays around NZ$70m in tariffs per year on its red meat exports to the EU.
“In addition, many of our competitors in this market, such as Canada, have already reached free trade agreements with the EU or are already in the process of negotiating, such as the USA. New Zealand is one of only six World Trade Organisation member countries that has yet to enter into trade negotiations with the EU.”
Meat Industry Association chairman Bill Falconer said New Zealand had a long-established relationship with the European red meat sector, and New Zealand product complemented seasonal production patterns in Europe to provide consumers with high-quality, safe meat products all year round.
“Securing an FTA with the European Union is the logical next step in strengthening our trade relationship. It will not only create a more formal trade framework, but will also support greater participation in global value chains by both sides,” said Falconer.
“We look forward to working together with the New Zealand government and European organisations to generate new opportunities for the agriculture and food sectors under an EU-NZ FTA,” he added.
The presidents of the European Council and the European Commission and the New Zealand Prime Minister issued a joint statement from Brussels. “The European Union and New Zealand are long-standing and close partners. We share core values, common interests and a growing and mutually beneficial trade and economic relationship, reinforced by strong people-to-people and cultural ties,” they said.
“We came together today to agree to further deepen our political, security, trade and investment relations.
“Today we committed to start the process for negotiations to achieve swiftly a deep and comprehensive high-quality free trade agreement. Discussions to define the scope and overall approach to the negotiations should start as soon as possible. In parallel with this, we agreed to take steps to seek the necessary authorisation for the negotiations on the basis of a successful scoping. We believe that an FTA will support sustainable growth and investment, opening up new trade and business opportunities and generating new employment for our peoples.”