Wednesday, 23 June 2021 08:55

Dairy curdled by restricted access

Written by  Peter Burke
Kimberly Crewther Kimberly Crewther

Trade and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor's visit to the UK and Europe to progress free trade agreements is extremely important to the New Zealand dairy industry.

Dairy Companies Association of NZ chief executive, Kimberly Crewther says the dairy industry wants ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreements (FTAs), she says that means the elimination of all tariffs on dairy exports to put them on a similar footing to the bilateral trade agreements between the UK and the EU.

O'Connor's ten day trip to Europe sees him meeting top EU officials including Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovkis and Agricultural Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski. He is also scheduled to hold talks with some of the European parliamentarians who are involved in the FTA talks. In France, he meets with the French trade minister Franck Riester. On the UK leg of the trip, O'Connor has talks with Trade Minister Liz Truss and then with other agricultural leaders - including representatives of the National Farmers Union.

O'Connor says that while the negotiations are going well with both the EU and UK, they are at a point where some direct political discussions are necessary to help get through a couple of tricky issues.

"Agriculture is clearly sensitive for us especially geographical indicators (GIs). There are plenty of issues around the fringes and while our trade negotiations have been doing an exceptional job to get us to where we are, we just have to maintain the momentum and get through the difficult issues," he told Dairy News.

The issue of GIs is a major concern to the dairy industry. Crewther says the EU is effectively endeavouring to stop NZ from using the names of certain brands of cheese such as Gouda, which is a city in the Netherlands.

"This would risk significant commercial losses for NZ dairy industry, whilst requiring us to adopt a fraught and inconsistent European style IP framework," she says.

"DCANZ does not oppose GIs as an intellectual property concept. It is, however, extremely concerned that the EU's GI frameworks are being misused to clawback and monopolise the use of cheese names that have commonly used in global cheese markets for many years."

Crewther says the EU has extended GIs protection to a number of cheeses that have previously featured in global trade - facilitating agreements such as Gruyere and parmesan. She adds that such protection has already diminished cheese market opportunities for exporters to the EU market.

"What we are seeing is the cutting off these opportunities for third country producers via FTAs. At stake are not only current commercial opportunities for NZ's $2 billion dollar cheese industry, but also future opportunities," Crewther explains.

"We have a shared food heritage with Europe, as a result of our shared ancestry. The FTA should not take away the opportunities New Zealanders have had to benefit commercially from food names that we have used for decades."

Crewther adds that one of the problems with an expanded EU is getting approved for an FTA from the 27-member countries. She says, in recent times, the mandating or approval of FTAs wth the EU has become increasingly complex and final ratification of trade agreements have taken longer than they did in the past.

More like this

Rural vaccination message from Damien O'Connor

OPINION: Rural New Zealanders and those working in the primary sector play a vital role in our response to COVID-19 and it's important they take the opportunity to get vaccinated against the virus, says Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O'Connor

O'Connor's overseas odyssey

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor continued his overseas odyssey in the past week with multiple meetings in the US, Europe and Ireland - all aimed at sorting out trade issues which in the case of Europe dairy is a major issue.

Visa changes welcomed

There's been a swift and positive response from the red meat and dairy sectors to the Government's belated announcement to free up visa arrangements for up to 9,000 migrant workers in the primary sector.

Mr O'Connor goes to Washington!

As Rural News revealed several weeks ago, Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O'Connor is on his way to Europe and the United States to meet with key partners, including representing New Zealand at the G20 Trade Ministers' meeting in Italy.

National

Why should we do more?

OPINION: Managing our dairy sector's impacts inevitably attracts a range of views. Should we do more, less or stay the…

Cattle sale with a difference

Innovation, loss and resilience have brought the Singh family to the point where it is poised to honour its patriarch,…

O'Connor's overseas odyssey

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor continued his overseas odyssey in the past week with multiple meetings in the US, Europe and…

Machinery & Products

Protective tint

Now available in New Zealand, Wildcat Static Cling Tint adds a protective layer to the windows of your tractor, harvester…

New owner for stoll

German company Stoll, the well-known manufacturer of tractor front loaders and attachments that claims to be the second largest producer…

Fert spreaders get a revamp

Kuhn has updated its MDS range of fertiliser spreaders, giving farmers more options to upgrade machines as situations change, rather…

Mowers spring into action

With spring upon us, thoughts turn towards shutting up paddocks for conservation and maybe the purchase of new machinery to…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Feeling the heat

US dairy farmers have a new threat to their business - heat waves.

Class action

The news has gone from bad to worse for a2 Milk - the company Synlait had hitched its wagon to.

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter