Tuesday, 28 February 2023 15:55

UK FTA offers opportunities for NZ primary producers

Written by  Peter Burke
Britain’s High Commissioner to NZ Iona Thomas. Britain’s High Commissioner to NZ Iona Thomas.

Britain's High Commissioner to NZ Iona Thomas says there’s a heightened awareness by UK consumers about the food they buy.

Her comments come as the UK moves towards ratifying the FTA reached last year. NZ has already ratified the deal.

Thomas says with the tight global economic situation, consumers are becoming more conscious about the choices they make and are looking for value for money among other things.

“Increasingly we see people wanting to identify with brand value and understand the story behind different brands,” she told Rural News.

“So, food provenance is a big issue and I think that producers need to be able to tell the whole story about what underpins their products.”

Thomas says the UK is a very large market for NZ and one with very engaged consumers who are really interested in buying food products.

“We know that NZ farmers produce very high value products and this resonates quite well with consumers,” she explains. “The UK will provide great opportunities for a range of primary industry and horticulture products.”

Thomas took up the role of UK High Commissioner to NZ towards the end of last year, after the FTA was already completed. She says the arrangement is a great opportunity for farmers and businesses both in the UK and NZ to do business more easily and more cheaply.

She believes there is broad support for the FTA in the UK, although it’s understood that the UK farmers’ lobby is still unhappy, as they have always been when a deal with NZ has been struck.

Thomas says while the FTA opens up opportunities for NZ primary producers, the UK is looking to increase its exports of cars, machinery and consumer goods. A key point of the FTA, from a UK perspective, is the right for that country to expand in the services area such as legal and financial.

One particular aspect of the FTA was the inclusion of a ‘Māori chapter’.

“This is ground-breaking and there is real opportunity to use that to talk about Māori business opportunities in the UK,” Iona claims. “This is an area we are really excited about.”

As well as the signing of the FTA, Thomas points to another signing that took place earlier last year – a memorandum of understanding on research, science and innovations.

She hopes this will lead to greater collaboration between the two nations in this space. She notes that at last year’s Fieldays, there was group from the UK who were looking to explore opportunities in the agritech area.

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