The signing of the Veterinary Agreement and Mutual Recognition Agreement on Conformity Assessment Bodies means that products imported into the UK post-Brexit will be treated the same as they are currently under EU legislation, guaranteeing smooth trade between the UK and New Zealand. The Press Association is expecting up to 36 countries to sign these agreements with the UK.
The signing of the Veterinary Agreement, together with the recent advice from the UK about the acceptance of EU Health Certificates post-29 March 2019, means that the red meat sector is assured that existing regulations will remain the same – helping to alleviate some of the immediate concerns exporters have.
B+LNZ’s CEO Sam McIvor said New Zealand was one of the UK’s oldest and most significant trading partners and the signing of this agreement would provide reassurance to farmers and exporters. “The United Kingdom accounts for NZ$560m worth of the sector’s exports, dominated by sheepmeat which represents 85% of that total.”
MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie said that, since the Brexit vote in 2016, there had been a lot of uncertainty for the sector. “The UK is an important market for New Zealand high- value chilled lamb exports and Brexit falls at a critical time of our Easter trade. It is important that all steps be taken to secure continuity and stability for our exporters through the Brexit process,” he said.
The Veterinary Agreement was described as key to New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports to Europe as it establishes the principle of equivalence of sanitary measures and has reduced many potential trade irritants. It has improved communication and cooperation on sanitary measures and has streamlined requirements to facilitate trade.
The trade bodies added that there were other aspects of the trade relationship that still needed to be clarified, for example around animal welfare standards recognition and ongoing documentation requirements, to support seamless trade to the UK.
“While we still need to work to get clarity around how our quota rights will be recognised, we support Prime Minister Ardern’s statement that New Zealand should not be left worse off as a result of Brexit – with our top priority being continuity and stability, which is in everyone’s interest, including the UK’s,” said McIvor. “We want to work with the UK to ensure we can continue to build an even stronger relationship and it is important that both governments put contingency plans in place to ensure trade continues, regardless of any Brexit outcome.
“Once the UK is in a position to do so, the sector fully supports the negotiation of a high-quality Free Trade Agreement that addresses each side’s priority interests.”