21 Jul 2015

Beef and Lamb NZ backs trade deal benefits

3:20 pm on 21 July 2015

Farmer levy-funded organisation Beef and Lamb New Zealand has produced figures which it said showed the value of persisting with free trade negotiations.

Beef cattle in Rangiwahia, Manawatu.

Beef cattle in Rangiwahia, Manawatu. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

As part of its advocacy work on behalf of sheep and beef farmers, it provides detailed analysis to the Government to support free trade agreement negotiations.

By its calculations, New Zealand's Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) delivered tariff savings of more than $160 million on sheep meat and beef exports last year.

Beef and Lamb chief executive Scott Champion said those savings would grow as tariffs continued to come down and exports grew.

"The good news, I guess, is how big some of the savings are compared to if those free trade agreements weren't in place."

Dr Champion said red meat was one of the most protected products in the world and, especially for beef, the amount of tariffs being paid was still significant.

"It's about $161 million saved, compared to not having FTAs in place, but the total tariff bill is still about $326 million.

"We have a lot of discussion - often publicly - around whether we should be doing free trade agreements, or shouldn't we, and what this data really suggests is that... free trade agreements deliver significant savings to sectors, and particularly primary industries."

Dr Champion said the key target for the meat sector in the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks was breaking through Japan's high tariff barriers.

"I think it's well known that there are a number of sectors that face quite high tariffs going into that market.

"It's typically our number two or three beef export market and beef faces a 38.5 percent tariff going into that market, and under certain conditions that can actually go to 50 percent...

"For us, that's the focus of that negotiation, as well as all the other sorts of benefits that a much more co-ordinated approach to trade across Asia-Pacific would deliver."

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