Wednesday, 27 February 2019 08:24

EU chief talks up free trade deal

Written by  Peter Burke
EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan. EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan.

An influential European Union diplomat is optimistic that a quality free trade agreement (FTA) with New Zealand is possible before the end of 2019.

The EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, visited NZ briefly last week to talk to government ministers and officials about current FTA negotiations. 

Hogan, an influential official, is responsible for the agricultural dimension of any FTA negotiated.

He told Dairy News that progress is good in the negotiations; three more formal rounds are scheduled up to the mid-year.

“I am optimistic that not only can we do a deal, but a quality deal,” he says.

Hogan, from a family farm in Ireland before entering politics, says agriculture will always be a sticking point with NZ because it is a sensitive issue with European farmers. But he is confident a deal can be negotiated and that 98% of the tariffs and other impediments to trade can be lifted, leading to greater trade liberalisation.

Two major issues are of concern to NZ: tariff rate quotas (TRQs) which affect access of sheepmeat to the EU and the UK, and geographic indicators (GIs) which mainly affect the dairy industry. 

Hogan says TRQs are more related to Brexit and are an issue for the World Trade Organisation (WTO)  to deal with. And the issue of GIs can be resolved. An example of a GI is the name given to a particular cheese such as gouda, which refers to a specific town or region. 

“Geographic indicators I suppose can be described as rural intellectual property in the EU. They are well accepted [in NZ] in the wine industry but I know there are one or two names in the dairy sector that we are worried about; but I think we can resolve those.”

On a positive note, Hogan refers to a great deal of goodwill at the FTA negotiating table.

“It would be unthinkable in an era of so much global disturbance on many issues, that the values and objectives of like-minded countries like NZ and the EU couldn’t bring about a deal. 

“If Mr Trump wants to remain protectionist we have to remain open for business and we are strong supporters of the multilateral trading system. As a result of this I think NZ and the EU will come to an agreement.”

Brexit doubts

Phil Hogan hopes Brexit will end up as an ‘emergency landing’ rather than a ‘crash’. 

This depends on whether British politicians can reach agreement by the end of March, when Britain is scheduled to leave the EU.

“When you read the papers it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, but I remain optimistic that some deal will ultimately be reached. It would be unthinkable for UK industry, agriculture, jobs and financial services if Britain crashed out. It would be a major blow to them.”

Hogan says the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, understands the Irish backstop issue which is proving to be a major sticking point in the negotiations. But he says the behaviour of some ‘leave’ campaigners in the House of Commons shows a lack of interest in the fragile peace in Ireland.

“The island of Ireland needs to be protected from the worst excesses of Brexit,” Hogan says.

More like this

Planning pays off

Contingency planning by the New Zealand meat industry appears to have paid off as Brexit took effect on January 1.

Is a no deal Brexit the real deal?

A former Irish Prime Minister says even if the UK and EU manage to work out a deal over Brexit it will be very limited and cause a lot of disruption.

Meat quota rates remain vital

A jump in the value and volume of New Zealand’s sheepmeat exports to Europe and the UK shows why preserving WTO tariff-rate quotas is so important, claims the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Quota split a major worry

New Zealand meat exporters want the EU and UK to get serious on reaching a deal on post-Brexit quotas.

Featured

Dairy conversion - Otaki style

Near the Horowhenua town of Otaki, dairy conversion has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s not a case of converting sheep and beef farms to dairy farms, rather it’s a case of just converting old dairy sheds to country style tourist accommodation. Reporter Peter Burke visited two such conversions by two pretty special and creative women.

 

Bringing flat batteries to life

Given the absence of power outlets in many remote buildings on New Zealand farms, there’s every chance of ending up with a flat battery when away from civilisation for an extended period.

Kuhn bolsters mower range

Kuhn has bolstered its mower conditioner range with the addition of two rear mounted/ vertical folding models with a 3.10m working width.

2020 property market closes on a healthy note

Data release by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 175 more farm sales for the three months ending December 2020 than for the same period in 2019.

National

Expat workers ready for NZ

Dairy industry recruitment company Rural People Limited is seeing a huge increase in overseas interest to fill New Zealand farming…

Machinery & Products

Kubota ROPS tractors here

Kubota New Zealand product specialist Shaun Monteith says Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) tractors make up 30% of all tractors in…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Dung paint

India now has its own cow dung paint, a world-first. 

Fresh for 60 days

A Queensland-based company is set to release its own production of milk this year that stays fresh for at least…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter