[25 January/The Country]

The signing of a veterinary agreement between the UK and New Zealand during the Prime Minister’s recent visit to London should provide reassurance to farmers and exporters about trade after Brexit according to Beef + Lamb NZ and Meat Industry Association. In a joint statement, the organisations Chief Executive’s said the signing of the agreement meant the sector was assured existing regulations would remain the same, which would help alleviate some of the immediate concerns held by exporters. The veterinary agreement was key to New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports to Europe as it established the principle of equivalence of sanitary measures and had reduced many potential trade irritants. Silver Fern Farms’ latest update to suppliers said UK authorities would be accepting consignments which had EU certification and documentation for a six month period after the Brexit date and would not be instigating additional custom checks at border ports. It was still expected product flowing from the UK into the EU would face new certification and documentation, as well as tariffs being added to the majority of products. One possible outcome of Brexit is that domestic lamb remained on the UK market to compete with New Zealand imports. That could create price tension, driving returns lower. On the flipside, the lack of product flowing from the UK into the EU – its major market – might create opportunities for New Zealand to supply, although the five-week shipping time made it less able to react with speed to short lead-in times from customers.