European Union and New Zealand trade officials are still hopeful that agreement on a free trade agreement (FTA) will be reached by the end of the year.
A large EU delegation and their NZ counterparts are working towards a hoped-for comprehensive and quality FTA by late 2019.
An inevitable sticking point will be agricultural tariff rate quotas (TRQs) and geographic indicators (GIs) especially in respect of dairy, e.g. a cheese name such as Gouda referring to its region of origin.
When the EU’s commissioner for agriculture and rural development, Phil Hogan, visited NZ in February he told Dairy News of good progress in the negotiations. He was optimistic that a quality deal would be struck.
Hogan described GIs as rural intellectual property in the EU and he noted they are well accepted in the NZ wine industry.
The FTA talks come as Brexit enters a hiatus: Britain’s departure is now scheduled for October 31 – Halloween, noted for tricks and treats.
Meanwhile, in London MPs and officials at the Houses of Parliament at Westminster are suffering a plague of mice running over desks and brazenly eating food on tables in MPs’ cafes.
All the while, say commentators, Theresa May must deal with a rat pack of ministers and MPs in House of Commons where Brexit is delayed.
Should Britain fail to leave the EU by Halloween and were the Brexit debate to spill over to 2020 it would be perhaps fitting: 2020 if the Chinese year of the rat.