Damien O'Connor heads to US, Europe with big trade sales pitch

The Minister for Trade and Export Growth is off to the US and Europe to make a big sales pitch.

He's after an in-principle Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which our meat industry hopes will pave the road to a post-COVID recovery.

When our lambing season is starting, the UK's is coming to an end.

"Being pasture-raised and grass-fed, we're quite seasonal so we fit in really well with the northern hemisphere growing cycle," says Kate Acland from Mt Somers Station. 

You might say, it's good trade, but it's not a free trade - yet.

"An FTA with both the UK and EU is massively important because improved access and improved options for our markets, that would deliver great quality back to us on the farm, particularly in the high-quality beef," says Acland. 

Red meat is one of our top exports, likely a sticking point as the Government seeks a FTA with the UK. Post-Brexit the beef quota was slashed.

"Currently we're constrained because of the quotas, those envelopes of volumes, ao we're constrained as to how much we can export at any one time," says Meat Industry Association NZ's Sirma Karapeeva. 

Deadlines to meet an agreement in principle with the UK have so far been missed. 

But Minister Damien O'Connor said he is working hard on the final steps to reach an agreement with the UK as soon as possible. He also said that this being his second trip to the EU this year,  indicates a deal with them is also a priority.

"We're very supportive of a high-quality comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with both those markets that levels the playing field," says Karapeeva.

The meat industry believes export could be key to an economic rebuild post-COVID.

And many farmers agree.

"It just gives us more certainty with markets and so on and so forth we know what we're producing we've got good homes for," says farmer Michael Salvesen. 

On the shelves overseas.