Onion growers welcome progress on new Asia-Pacific trade deal

New Zealand onion growers are welcoming progress on a new Asia-Pacific free trade deal, saying the positive effects will be felt in regional New Zealand.

Fifteen Asia-Pacific countries - including New Zealand - have concluded negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact.

Onions New Zealand said such trade agreements underpin the success of the New Zealand onion sector.

"The RCEP covers trade among New Zealand and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries, except India. That is, half the world's population," said Onions New Zealand chief executive, James Kuperus.

"Without reduced tariffs and clear trading arrangements, it is extremely difficult to export from the bottom of the world to larger economies like Asia and Australia.

"Agreements like these mean more onions can be exported with the higher returns going directly back into regional New Zealand communities," he said.

Kuperus said although the details of the RCEP were yet to be finalised, there were clear savings and benefits for New Zealand growers and exporters, including the agreement to clear perishable goods within six hours.

"This will allow more horticultural products such as onions to be exported to these markets with better assurances that they will not sit on wharfs for extended periods of time."

Meanwhile New Zealand onion exports will reach $170 million in 2019.

"This is a major milestone thanks to strong demand from European Union (EU) customers this year. We have been trading with the EU for more than 60 years with strong relationships built on trust and integrity."

Over 5000 hectares of onions are grown across New Zealand, with the main growing regions being Pukekohe, Waikato, Canterbury, Hawke's Bay and the Manawatu.

The New Zealand onion industry is predominantly made up of family owned and operated grower operations.