Tuesday, 02 November 2021 07:25

Sweet result for hort!

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
NZ Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard. NZ Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard.

Some horticulture farmers are bracing for financial relief from the proposed free trade agreement between New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Apple, pear and onion growers are among those set to benefit although not as big major meat and dairy exporters.

NZ Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard says at the moment the UK is a $100 million market for growers, consistently ranking in the top two or three.

"We have a quota between August and December where volume above that quota attracts an 8% tariff," he told Hort News.

Under the proposed FTA, the tariff on pears will be removed on day one, with the tariff on apples reducing over three years.

"So, there is some financial relief and we benefit from a more welcoming regulatory environment," says Pollard.

Onion growers will face zero tariff from day one. The tariff on New Zealand onions is currently 8%. New Zealand currently exports $11 million worth of onions to the United Kingdom annually.

Onions NZ chief executive James Kuperus says the FTA will ensure that this country's onion expors continue to grow as the world comes to terms with Covid. "Trade and exporting benefits a diverse range of New Zealand businesses," he says.

"Without clear trading arrangements, improved market access and reduced tariffs, it is extremely difficult to export from the bottom of the world to larger economies like the United Kingdom.

"Of immediate benefit to the onion sector is the expectation of tariffs being eliminated on onions, once the agreement comes into force."

The New Zealand Government announced the details of an "in-principle" New Zealand-UK FTA last week as trade officials neared completing the deal after little more than a year of negotiations. Kuperus says the NZ onion sector is extremely grateful for the hard work of New Zealand's negotiators and diplomats who have worked tirelessly to conclude this agreement.

"The New Zealand team has had to join Zoom calls with their counterparts at extremely inconvenient times of the night, for example."

The conclusion of this agreement will benefit onion growers and regional communities, from Pukekohe to Canterbury. Onions are an important rotation crop for many vegetable growers. Having onions in a rotation allows growers to rotate between other crops such as lettuces, potatoes, carrots etc, which helps to control pests and diseases.

In 2019, the New Zealand onion industry was worth $200 million back to the grower, 85% of which came from exports. Meanwhile Apiculture New Zealand says the deal will be a great outcome for the bee industry and will improve competitiveness in one of their largest export markets.

The UK consistently ranks as one of the top three export markets for New Zealand honey and is worth $70 million annually. "We have strong ties with UK customers, with a long history of exporting high-quality honey products there. However, the current in-quota tariff rate of 16 per cent has been a significant barrier to trade," says Karin Kos, chief executive of Apiculture New Zealand.

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