Government sets up group to advance primary sector interests following Brexit

"No need to panic" about access for New Zealand products to the EU or Britain, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ

“No need to panic” about access for New Zealand products to the EU or Britain, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The Government has set up a technical advisory group for the primary sector to work on issues related to Brexit.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said the group had been set up on Monday following a meeting with Trade Minister Todd McClay and officials.

“I said ‘Let’s think about the opportunities that come with this’,” Guy told the Federated Farmers annual conference.  

The meeting had devised four “Rs” – reassurance, rights, road map and resources.

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Guy said there was no need to panic because it would take at least two years and probably more for the United Kingdom to exit the European Union.

The withdrawal could be protracted because up until now many of Britain’s policies had been devised and run out of Brussels, and it would take time for it to hire new officials to work on new policies.

Because New Zealand’s access to the EU had been gained through the World Trade Organisation, there was a referee which would protect rights, such as the annual quota of 280,000 tonnes of tariff-free sheepmeat, not to mention beef and dairy products.

The Government was seeking assistance from industry and groups like Federated Farmers to create a road map for the direction in which it should head.

Guy said new trade agreements with the EU and Britain would demand more resourcing.

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“We will need more people in the EU, more people in London to deal with how things evolve over the next couple of years,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Ministry trade negotiator David Walker told the meeting the mantra was to “keep calm and carry on”.

“There’s been a lot of turmoil in the stock and currency markets, but in terms of the rules that govern trade with the EU and Britain, nothing has changed,” Walker said.

The EU was undertaking a scoping exercise at present of a free trade agreement with New Zealand, and negotiations were due to start next year.

The EU takes just under 11 per cent of New Zealand exports and provides 18 per cent of imports.

William Hoare of Fromm Winery and chairman of the winery grouping “Family of Twelve” said he saw a lucrative long term opportunity in Britain.

He said a lot of Chinese and Russians had bought up stocks of highly valued French wines, leaving a void in the British market for expensive, high quality wines which could be partly filled by New Zealand wineries. 

 – Stuff

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