19 Jan 2016

NZ exporters eye Iran sanction lift

9:59 am on 19 January 2016

The lifting of sanctions on Iran will be an opportunity for New Zealand to tap into new markets and renew its relationship with an old trading partner, exporters say.

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Iran has a history of interest in New Zealand lamb products. Photo: 123rf

The UN sanctions have been lifted after Iran complied with a deal to curtail its nuclear programme.

In the 1980s, Iran was one of New Zealand's top five export markets.

In 2014, according to the government, New Zealand commodity exports to Iran were worth just $163 million.

Catherine Beard

Catherine Beard Photo: Business New Zealand

Export New Zealand executive director Catherine Beard said that was now likely to change.

"It's very exciting because it gives us a whole lot of potential new customers and new markets, and I think certainly our big agri-exporters will be very interested and keen."

Iran had tens of millions of well-educated consumers, she said.

"Back in the 1970s, Iran was actually buying about 60 percent of our lamb exports - so they have in the past been a significant trading partner."

Federated Farmers meat and fibre spokesperson Rick Powdrell agreed with that but said there were a lot of unknowns.

"We don't know what sort of volumes they might want, we don't know what sort of cuts they might want and we don't know what they are prepared to pay."

Iran's ambassador to New Zealand, Jalaladin Namini Miyanji, told Morning Report the country was ready to boost trade and to welcome New Zealand companies to Iran.

He said there was also an increasing number of New Zealanders seeking visas to visit Iran.

Caucus run 21/07/15

David Clark Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Labour trade spokesperson David Clark said it could also be a real opportunity for the dairy industry.

"In past years, the dairy industry has had exports that have at times gone over $200 million to Iran. I would hope we would see that again and maybe even more," Mr Clark said.

"As (Iran) becomes wealthier, it's likely that they will want to see more New Zealand dairy - and that's got to be good for our country."

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand had started the process of removing UN sanctions and updating its regulations.

He expected that to be completed next month.