12 Dec 2012

Meat industry seeks beef trade reforms in TPP talks

7:12 pm on 12 December 2012

Agricultural representatives have been lobbying hard for comprehensive trade reforms as the latest round of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks wrap up in Auckland on Wednesday.

Eleven Pacific rim countries including Canada and Mexico for the first time, have been meeting since last week.

The TPP talks are seen as the best opportunity for participating countries to make progress on freeing up trade, with the indefinite shelving of the Doha world trade negotiations.

Farmers and food processors from Australia, New Zealand and Canada have joined in calling on negotiators to conclude an agreement in 2013 that liberalises trade across all goods and services.

While there's been a strong focus from New Zealand in breaking down tariff and quota restrictions in the dairy trade especially to the US, the meat industry is looking for progress as well.

The Meat Industry Association and Beef and Lamb New Zealand have been part of the TPP talk-fest.

Beef and Lamb chair Mike Petersen says the biggest tariff and market access obstacles lie with beef more than sheepmeat.

He says tariffs in Asia are very high, where as in USA the tariffs aren't that high and the total cost to industry is about $10 million a year.

"But we are now behind Australia who has a free trade agreement with America, and so a successful trans Pacific partnership would be one where we see that differential is eliminated. We're certainly at a disadvantage now and we want to level the playing field."

New Zealand is part of the Five Nations Beef Alliance with Australia, the United States, Canada and Mexico, all of whom are participants in the TPP talks.

They account for about half of world beef exports.

Mr Petersen says the alliance is also pushing for a comprehensive agreement.

He says the Five Nations Beef Alliance is a group of producer organisations which strongly support opening up market access barriers for beef exports around the world.

Mr Petersen says if farming groups are working together it should make it much easier for the negotiators.