NZ EU FTA – A MIXED BAG, SAYS BUSINESS FORUM

by | Jul 1, 2022 | Featured Articles, Media Releases, NZIBF

Reacting to the overnight conclusion of negotiations for a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the European Union, the NZ International Business Forum (NZIBF), which brings together a cross section of major exporters, said the outcome was mixed in terms of export gains for New Zealand.

“This has been a complex and arduous negotiation. Our negotiators have clearly worked hard to achieve the best possible result in the circumstances and we thank them for their efforts. An ambitious, high quality and comprehensive FTA was the goal and we welcome the new opportunities which will be opened up through tariff elimination for several sectors including kiwifruit, apples, other horticulture, seafood and wine, as well as better access for services and manufactured products. Unfortunately the agreement does not deliver commercially meaningful outcomes for our largest exporters, dairy and meat”, said NZIBF Executive Director Stephen Jacobi.

Mr Jacobi said that dairy and meat exporters would gain access to only a marginal proportion of EU consumption, which is a missed opportunity and a really disappointing result.

“Even after full implementation the dairy and meat sectors will face small quotas and high tariffs, restricting their ability to grow the market in a commercially meaningful way.  That means that the agreement’s usefulness in terms of trade diversification will be strictly limited and could set an unhelpful precedent for future negotiations”.

The agreement in principle contains some onerous provisions on geographical indications (GI).

“New Zealand producers will lose the right to use certain generic cheese names like feta and use of other names like parmesan will be curtailed. While a GI system was always going to be part of a final agreement, the restrictions placed on generic names are regrettable”.

Other aspects of the agreement appear more positive and forward looking, including a chapter on Māori economic co-operation and sustainability provisions.   The agreement does not extend patent protections for pharmaceuticals, but the copyright term will be extended. The EU will enjoy better conditions for investment, including a higher investment screening threshold similar to other FTA partners and better access to government procurement.

“While we cannot at this point welcome the new agreement unreservedly, we will take time in coming days to review the detail of the outcome carefully”, concluded Mr Jacobi.

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