$20 million deal for NZ seafood


New Zealand seafood will gain $20 million in tariff reductions when the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union comes into force in the first quarter of 2024.

The FTA was signed in Brussels on July 9, slightly more than one year to the date that FTA negotiations concluded.

The elimination of tariffs (a tax imposed on imported products) will considerably increase the earnings from New Zealand seafood exports, says Seafood New Zealand chief executive, Dr Jeremy Helson.

“New Zealand seafood exports were forecast to rise 8% to $2.1 billion for the year just ended, and by a further 2% by 30 June next year, driven by a recovery in demand and high prices due to the reopening of the food service industry after Covid-19.

“New Zealand commercial fishers are stepping up to meet the demand and maintain our global reputation for high-quality, sustainable wild-caught fish. The impact of this deal will be felt across the sector, from the many small family-run fishing businesses to the larger companies that are major employers in our regions,” Helson says.

For seafood, 99.5% of New Zealand’s current fish and seafood trade will enter the EU tariff-free from day one, increasing to 99.9% within five years, and 100% within seven years, with tariff savings of $19.6 million per annum. Tariffs will be eliminated at entry into force on almost all fish, and mussels, squid and other shellfish.

Helson says the agreement has been keenly awaited by the commercial seafood sector. When it comes into force it will have been more than eight years since negotiations started.

“New Zealand relies on free trade agreements to compete with goods from other global exporters. The existing tariffs, compounded by several very tough years of pandemic-related restrictions on operation and trade, have put a lot of pressure on this hard-working sector.”

The signing of the FTA with the European Union follows the new FTA with the United Kingdom that came into force on May 31, 2023. Under the UK-NZ FTA, 45% of New Zealand’s fish and seafood now enters the UK tax-free. Of the remaining 55% of products, most (99.% ) will enter duty free within three years, and 100% within seven years.