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NZ meat industry calls for speedy conclusion to Korea FTA

10 December 2013

New Zealand meat industry calls for speedy conclusion to Korea FTA

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) are calling for a speedy conclusion to New Zealand's free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Korea.

Concluding negotiations quickly is vital. Korea finalised FTA negotiations with Australia last week, and, on top of the Korea-US FTA that was signed in 2012, this has the potential to place New Zealand exporters at a significant disadvantage in the near future, the two organisations say.

Korea imposes 40% tariffs on beef imports, which cost New Zealand producers around $48 million in 2012. Korean tariffs on other products like prepared meats can be as high as 72%.

New Zealand beef producers currently face tariffs that are 5.3% more than their US competitors, and that disadvantage will increase to 8% in 2014. The newly-concluded Australia-Korea FTA will mean that Australian producers will soon have a similar advantage, making New Zealand products relatively less affordable for Korean consumers.

“Without an FTA, New Zealand producers will find it hard to maintain a competitive position in Korea. With heavy demand for New Zealand meat from other markets, exporters may be forced to leave Korea entirely,” MIA Chairman Bill Falconer said.

The US and Australian FTAs both involve elimination of Korea’s tariffs on beef in 15 year timeframes Australian and US products currently make up 90% of Korean beef imports.

B+LNZ Chairman Mike Petersen said it was important for New Zealand to keep up with other meat exporting countries in terms of market access conditions.

“It’s vital for the New Zealand red meat sector that we are able to operate on a level playing field with our competitors in this very important market. If that is not achieved then our ability to compete in the Korean market will be quickly eroded.

“We strongly support New Zealand officials’ efforts to conclude negotiations with Korea as soon as possible, including the elimination of tariffs on beef and sheep meat products in commercially meaningful timeframes,” Petersen said.

ENDS

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