The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between New Zealand and the UK will deliver a major boost to Kiwi red meat exports by eventually allowing tariff-free access for beef and lamb into the UK.

The UK Parliament has ratified the FTA and the agreement will come into force on May 31.

“New Zealand exporters and farmers are looking forward to tariff free access into the UK, something we haven’t enjoyed since Britain joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973,” says Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

“This FTA is a high quality agreement that provides the red meat sector with greater access to a key market for New Zealand beef and lamb. 

“It really opens up an opportunity for New Zealand’s beef exports in a traditional market, and creates new avenues for growth for the red meat sector.

“The agreement will also allow closer co-operation between the NZ and UK red meat sectors and strengthen the ties between the two countries.”

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says the FTA is good news for sheep and beef farmers, rural communities and the New Zealand economy.

“Not only will this FTA support the sector to unlock further value in this important market, but it will further strengthen New Zealand’s already diverse export base.

“But we know that the UK market is very competitive with Australia also gaining greater access so we will have to work hard to realise our ambitions and seize the opportunities on offer.”

New Zealand’s free range, pasture-raised product is seasonal so complements the UK’s northern hemisphere production, says Mr McIvor.

“Both New Zealand and the UK also share a commitment to high production standards, especially in food safety and quality, animal welfare and the environment.”

The New Zealand Meat Board will be responsible for administering the FTA quotas for beef and sheepmeat in line with the robust system already in place for administering the existing World Trade Organization (WTO) quotas for red meat.

“Over the past 12 months, the New Zealand Meat Board has been working alongside our red meat sector partners planning for this milestone and all the systems are ready to go,” says NZMB General Manager Quota and Information Nick Beeby.