6 October 2020      Lift in New Zealand sheepmeat exports to Europe and UK shows importance of preserving WTO tariff rate quotas. 

New Zealand sheepmeat exports rose 12 per cent by volume and five per cent by value in August compared to a year ago, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

A fall in sheepmeat exports to China (-13% by value) was offset by a significant increase in demand from the UK and Europe despite the uncertainty of the fast-approaching Brexit.

A total of 2,044 tonnes of sheepmeat was exported to the UK in August 2020, a 43 per cent increase on August 2019. Exports to the Netherlands rose by 80 per cent and to Germany by 30 per cent. France and Belgium also saw increases.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said the growth in sheepmeat exports to the UK and Europe highlights why the European Union and UK must not be allowed to split New Zealand’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) country-specific tariff rate quotas following Brexit.

“Trade patterns are continuously changing. The red meat sector’s ability to maintain steady overall export volumes and value during these difficult times underlines the importance of flexibility and responding to constantly evolving market dynamics.

“It also illustrates the difficulty of predicting future trends based on historical trade data. We remain deeply concerned about the proposal for the EU and UK to split the World Trade Organisation tariff rate quotas, which would reduce that flexibility and disadvantage New Zealand.”

Meanwhile, the New Zealand red meat sector exported 9,940 tonnes of beef to the US during August 2020, the highest volume for the month since 2016. This represented an 85 per cent increase on the same period in 2019, and with exports worth $80 million, the highest August value for beef exports to the US since 2015.

The increased demand from the US offset a reduction in beef exports to China.

“Overall, beef exports were largely unchanged compared to last August,” said Ms Karapeeva.

“Volumes increased by one per cent and value reduced by three per cent. This steady result is very positive given the challenging global environment.

“Beef exports to China still remain higher than most previous August months. The  drop reflects the exceptionally high Chinese demand for protein this time last year, due to  African Swine Fever. Brazil has also increased its beef exports to China as it benefits from the drop in value of the Brazilian real against the US dollar.”  

Beef volumes to Canada, Taiwan, Korea, Australia and Saudi Arabia also lifted year-on-year, including a 209 per cent increase to Canada, with 1,993 tonnes, and 73 per cent increase to Taiwan, at 1,507 tonnes.

The value of all red meat and co-products exported during August held steady compared to the same period last year, at $516.7 million. China remained the largest red meat market, with total exports of $151.7 million.