The red meat sector is greeting the signing of a trade agreement with Taiwan as a significant development for the beef and sheep industry.
The Economic Co-operation Agreement will over the next eight years gradually do away with Taiwanese tariffs that have constrained New Zealand food exports there for many years.
Tariffs on beef will go within two years and on sheepmeat within four.
During 2012, New Zealand exported $208 million worth of red meat products to Taiwan but $18 million worth of tariffs applied to them.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen said the free trade agreement is just the start and it's really now up to commercial companies to make the most of the opportunity that's been provided by the Government.
"We often see, after the signing of an agreement, much more commitment by exporters to actually go and build a presence in that market, because they've got confidence that they can actually build a sustainable market over the long term."
Mr Petersen said he's already had inquiries from a number of exporters who see this as an opportunity to look again at Taiwan.
But, he said, for trade to reach its true potential in Asia, other important economies need to free up their trade too.
Mr Petersen said New Zealand still pays 40% tariffs on beef into South Korea and 38.5% tariffs on beef going into Japan, which goes to 50% if a certain volume is exceeded.
If the tariffs are retained in Japan and Korea, he said New Zealand is likely to put much more focus on countries like Taiwan and China.