17 May 2010

Meat and Wool NZ want free trade deal with Korea

12:43 pm on 17 May 2010

Meat & Wool New Zealand is anxious to see a free trade agreement with South Korea completed as soon as possible so that this country's beef trade can compete on an equal footing there.

New Zealand and Korean negotiators held the fourth round of negotiations on a trade deal last week.

South Korea and Japan are New Zealand's biggest beef export markets after the United States.

But tariffs imposed on beef sent to those countries are very high - 40% in Korea's case.

Meat & Wool New Zealand says this tariff would come down under a free trade agreement.

But it says New Zealand's main competitors, Australia and the United States, have also been negotiating trade deals with South Korea.

Chief executive Dr Scott Champion says this country's beef trade will be at a disadvantage if they get there first.

Australia has a free trade agreement with the United States and New Zealand does not. America has concluded an FTA with Korea, but it is not ratified yet.

Meat & Wool is also continuing its efforts to promote New Zealand grass-fed beef in South Korea as an alternative to the grain-fed product that's mostly consumed there.

Last week it took part in South Korea's largest food and beverage show, Seoul Food and Hotel.