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Tariff quotas filling well, says Meat New Zealand

Meat New Zealand announced today that all of New Zealand's major meat quotas are filling up well and should be almost totally utilised by the end of the quota year, Meat New Zealand's trade policy manager Ben O'Brien said.

"In the past few years we have filled the quotas almost completely, especially the EU sheepmeat and US beef quotas, which have been 99 percent utilised. We aim to maximise returns available from the markets concerned, and in the interest of livestock farmers, ensure the best possible ongoing net returns for New Zealand livestock, meat and co-products."

With 65 percent of New Zealand's $4 billion dollar beef, sheep and goatmeat exports going into a quota market, the allocation and management of tariff quotas is a vital role for Meat New Zealand to carry out on behalf of farmers, processors and exporters. Meat New Zealand manages three country specific tariff quotas (CSTQs), these are the European Union sheep and goatmeat tariff quota, the EU high quality beef tariff quota, and the US beef and bobby veal tariff quota.

New Zealand's most valuable quota market is the 226,700 tonnes (carcase weight equivalent) EU sheep and goatmeat tariff quota, which is worth around $1.4 billion annually, O'Brien said.

"Our quota currently accounts for more than 70 percent of EU sheepmeat imports. In the past few years we have increased the amount of chilled lamb being sent in relation to frozen because it is a higher value product. We do have to be mindful of the sensitivities of the European domestic producers, who sometimes see chilled New Zealand Lamb as competing with their product. However due to our seasonal supply, we actually tend to complement their low season," he said.

Current sheepmeat sendings to the EU (to July 23) are up 1.6 percent on the same period last year, at 169,496 tonnes (CWE), or 75 percent of the total quota, O'Brien said. "Export certificates issued for chilled lamb are also up on the same time last year by 9.3 percent, in line with increased demand."

Exports into the one billion dollar US beef and veal tariff quota are also ahead of last year, O'Brien said. "We are currently sitting 11.3 percent ahead of the corresponding period in 2002, when we almost reached the quota ceiling, so hopefully we are on track for a repeat of that effort. So far 164,217 tonnes of the total 213,402 tonnes (product weight) has already been filled."

Exports into the 300 tonnes EU high quality beef quota closed on June 30, O'Brien said. "Over 95 percent of the high quality beef tariff rate quota was utilised in the 2002-03 quota year."

New Zealand also has a beef and veal tariff quota of 29,600 tonnes into Canada, however that is managed by the Canadians, O'Brien said. "Obviously with the BSE situation in Canada right now, which has closed their major export markets, they have more than sufficient beef to meet demand."

The role of quota management is a very important one for the entire meat industry. Farmers, processors and exporters all made it clear to Meat New Zealand at the beginning of the consultation round for the current vote on wool, sheepmeat, beef and goat levies, that quota management must be maintained in New Zealand, O'Brien said. "Recognising this, Meat New Zealand has worked alongside MAF to ensure that the role of quota administration will be protected regardless of the outcome of the vote on the industry-good organisation."

New Zealand's tariff quota limits are as follows

· EU sheep and goatmeat; 226,700 tonnes (carcase weight equivalent)

· EU high quality beef; 300 tonnes (product weight)

· US beef and veal, 213,402 tonnes (product weight)

These markets are annually worth (approx)

· EU sheep and goatmeat; $1.4 billion (FOB)

· US beef and veal; $1 billion (FOB)

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