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The UK and New Zealand have agreed to a trade deal, in principle, with both sides eliminating 100% of tariffs, over a short phasing-in period, for sensitive products such as butter, cheese, beef and sheepmeat.

  • Dairy tariffs will be eliminated over a 5-year period (same as UK-Australia deal), with a duty-free quota put in place for butter imports from New Zealand starting at 7,000t in year 1, rising to 15,000t in year 5, and fully liberalised from year 6.
  • For cheese, there would be a duty-free quota starting at 24,000t in year 1 rising to 48,000t in year 5.
  • Beef and sheepmeat tariffs will be eliminated over a period of 15 years (same as the bilateral deal with Australia), with the products fully liberalised in ‘year 16+’.
  • The agreement in principle does include a bilateral safeguard which the government can activate to protect domestic producers against a surge in imports.

With regard the health and veterinary rules governing trade of products of animal origin, the existing Veterinary Agreement will continue to apply, however under this trade deal, it is stated that both sides will work towards recognising each other’s regulatory systems as being “equivalent.” The agreement also reaffirms the commitment of both countries to protect the environment including promoting sustainable agriculture and pledging to tackle climate change in the context of the Paris Agreement. There will also be a chapter on animal welfare, with both parties promising to co-operate in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

As with the UK-Australia trade agreement, the UK National Farmers Union have denounced the deal, for opening the doors to significant extra volumes of imported food, produced at a much lower cost, while securing almost nothing in return for UK farmers. From an Irish perspective, the deal highlights the need for Irish exporters to continue to invest in their relationships with UK costumers, to order to maintain our position as the market gets more and more competitive over the coming years.

Alison Graham – European Affairs Executive