Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association have welcomed the successful completion of joint scoping discussions towards an EU – NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA) announced by the Government.

Trade liberalisation, including through FTAs, creates a stable and level playing field on which to compete and it is hugely important to the growth and future prosperity of the sheep and beef sector and New Zealand as a whole, the two organisations say. “The completion of the scoping discussions is a significant step towards launching FTA negotiations this year,” Beef + Lamb chief executive Sam McIvor says.

The European Union is an important market for New Zealand red meat products, worth more than NZ$1.8 billion in the year ended December 2016. The EU is New Zealand’s largest market by region for sheepmeat exports and second-largest for chilled beef and wool exports, taking this country’s highest quality and value cuts.