Saturday, December 2, 2023

Major trade disruption unlikely

Neal Wallace
Should the Tories win this week’s British general election there is unlikely to be major trade disruption in the coming year while it negotiates terms for leaving the European Union.
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But changes in demographics since the 2016 referendum on leaving the EU could complicate the vote, New Zealand meat industry Brexit representative Jeff Grant says.

People wanting to leave the EU are generally older while those wanting to stay are generally younger so the growth of the younger demographic in the last three years could influence the vote.

An election result that creates a hung Parliament will create much uncertainty.

“You can kiss goodbye to achieving anything meaningful in 2020.”

Grant has been based in London for the last 18 months on behalf of Beef + Lamb and the Meat Industry Association to advise the red meat sector on any potential impact to NZ exports from the prolonged Brexit negotiations.

Should Prime Minister Boris Johnson win with a majority the United Kingdom will announce its intention to withdraw then begin detailed negotiations that will continue throughout 2020 ahead of a December 31 withdrawal.

If that happens he expects an uneventful year for trade. The key will be the detail of any agreement and what it means to exporters such as NZ in subsequent years.

Grant says the EU does not want the UK to emerge a more powerful trading nation than it was when part of the EU.

What all this means for NZ’s 228,000 tonnes annual sheep meat quota to the EU is still uncertain. NZ has complained to the World Trade Organisation over a post-Brexit proposal to split it in half between the EU and UK.

The case is still to be considered by the WTO.

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