Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has successfully signed a free trade deal with the European Union (EU) after more than a decade of negotiations. This important agreement comes after recent diplomatic challenges in China. The free trade agreement (FTA) is set to bring enormous benefits to New Zealand, with billions of dollars in export savings expected.
Under the deal, almost all of New Zealand’s exports to the EU will become duty-free. This means that 97 percent of current exports will no longer be subject to tariffs. Kiwifruit, wine, onions, apples, mānuka honey, and manufactured goods, along with most fish, seafood, and horticultural products, will immediately enjoy tariff elimination.
Once fully implemented, the FTA will create new opportunities for exports worth over $600 million annually. The beef industry, in particular, will see a remarkable eight-fold increase in sales to Europe. Additionally, sheep meat exports will expand by 38,000 tonnes each year. On the day the agreement takes effect, red meat and dairy are expected to generate up to $120 million in new export revenue, with estimates exceeding $600 million within seven years. Specific quotas have also been established for butter, cheese, milk powders, and protein whey.
Trade Minister Damien O’Connor, who played a key role in the negotiations, believes this deal is truly remarkable, stating, “it’s a bloody good deal.” However, not everyone is entirely satisfied. The meat industry, in particular, expressed disappointment with the outcomes for its producers.
Although this trade deal is a significant achievement, it still requires approval from the European Parliament.