3 Nov 2009

Dairy, meat industries welcome Gulf state trade deal

1:17 pm on 3 November 2009

The dairy and meat sectors have greeted New Zealand's latest free trade agreement enthusiastically despite the lack of detail about the terms of the deal.

The agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council covers six Gulf states: Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

New Zealand exported about $750 million worth of dairy products to the Gulf region in the past year, most of that from Fonterra.

Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden says dairy exports to the Gulf states at present incur 5% tariffs and the trade agreement should allow New Zealand to become more competitive and continue increasing sales.

The meat industry is also looking forward to the elimination of tariffs, which cost exporters more than $7 million on sheep meat and beef shipped to the Gulf last year.

The Gulf States make up New Zealand's third most valuable sheepmeat market after the European Union and the United States.

The free trade agreement has to be ratified by the six member states before it takes effect.