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Tuesday 28 June 2022

Will food exporters benefit from RCEP? Here’s MFAT’s take

9th December 2020 By Paul Yandall | | @foodtickernz

New Zealand’s food exporters are among the few to benefit from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, according to an analysis from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

MFAT’s national interest analysis of the trade deal signed by New Zealand and 14 Asia Pacific nations on 15 November showed few advantages “other than additional tariff elimination on certain food products and manufactured goods into Indonesia”.

Because New Zealand already had free trade agreements with most of the signatories, it was India’s participation that made the deal attractive. India subsequently pulled out of the deal.

MFAT said: “The most significant opportunity to reduce tariff barriers for New Zealand exporters came from India’s involvement in RCEP.

“This is because New Zealand does not have an existing FTA with India and India maintains very high tariff protection. This opportunity was not realised as India withdrew from the RCEP negotiations in November 2019.”

The agreement was still expected “to lower compliance costs, reduce the time exporters spend waiting for goods to clear customs, and enhance transparency and predictability for businesses operating in the RCEP region”.

Food exporters would benefit from perishable good provisions, requiring all RCEP countries to clear customs for products such as fresh seafood, fruit and vegetables within six months.

The deal came too late to make any difference to exports this year, which would suffer because of the Covid-19 pandemic, said MFAT.

“New Zealand’s goods exports are forecast to decrease by between 6.4% and 15.6% in 2020, less than the global average because of the proportion of our exports that are agriculture and processed food, which are expected to decrease by less than manufactured products.

“New Zealand’s exports of services will decrease by greater amounts, with international tourism, transport and education particularly hard hit.

“In general, however, New Zealand is in an enviable position in being a net food exporter, and has capacity to export our primary products to overseas markets.”

MFAT said that as other countries joined RCEP in the future, including possibly India, New Zealand would be able to negotiate market access to new territories.



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