22 January 2019    The Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) welcome Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement that a Veterinary Agreement between the United Kingdom and New Zealand has been signed in London.

B+LNZ’s CEO Sam McIvor said that New Zealand is one of the United Kingdom’s oldest and most significant trading partners and the signing of this agreement will provide reassurance to farmers and exporters.

“The United Kingdom accounts for $560 million worth of the sector’s exports dominated by sheepmeat which represents 85 per cent of that total.”

MIA Chief Executive Tim Ritchie says since the Brexit vote in 2016 there has been a lot of uncertainty for the sector. 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 sector is assured that existing regulations will remain the same – helping to alleviate some of the immediate concerns exporters have.

The Veterinary Agreement is 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 same will now apply to the UK.

 “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,“ says Mr Ritchie.

There are however other aspects of the trade relationship that still need to be clarified, for example around animal welfare standards recognition and on-going 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 Minster 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” says Mr 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”

The sector would like to thank the Prime Minister and her officials for their work in providing assurances to the sector of veterinary regulatory continuity and on minimising trade disruptions.
B+LNZ and the MIA look forward to continuing to work with the governments of New Zealand and the United Kingdom, industry partners, and the New Zealand Meat Board to address remaining issues as we prepare for any Brexit scenario.