IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said with Brexit negotiations on a knife edge and the UK such a major player in the sheep meat sector on the EU market and also as the main import destination for New Zealand lamb, it would be madness for EU negotiators to make any offer to New Zealand at this time in the EU/NZ trade negotiations.
Sean Dennehy said New Zealand is only filling about half of their existing 228,254t quota on sheep meat into the EU in recent years. “There is no basis to increase the New Zealand Tariff Rate Quota on sheep meat. Any attempt to do so can only be interpreted by European sheep farmers as a sell-out or a sacrifice of the sector for benefits in other trade areas,” he said.
On Brexit, Sean Dennehy said the EU has to insist that the traditional historic volumes going from New Zealand into the UK market go with the UK, and in turn are removed from the EU quota. “In practice this would mean that the EU quota post-Brexit would halve. This has to be part of Brexit and any new trade deal between the EU and NZ.”
Sean Dennehy said he has discussed the New Zealand import problem with Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and outlined the strong IFA view that there can be no concessions to New Zealand. All imports must meet EU standards and the Brexit dilemma must be satisfactorily resolved. IFA is also lobbying the EU Commission and MEPs on the issues.
“New Zealand already has more access to the valuable EU single market than any other country, including EU member states, without paying any taxes and without meeting EU standards on key issues like traceability and the environment,” he said.
Sean Dennehy called on the EU negotiators to pull back and insist that the standards applied to New Zealand sheep meat imports are similar to those imposed on Irish and European sheep farmers, like electronic identification and strict standards on environmental controls.
He said “This is what the EU Green Deal, Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies are all about, a level playing field and higher standards. We need to see this in action in trade deals. Anything less is a total contradiction and making a mockery out of all the EU Commission has said over the last few weeks on the Green Deal and standards.”