Fifteen of the 16 members have endorsed the text of the agreement.
B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor said the announcement constitutes an important milestone in the negotiations.
“RCEP represents a significant portion of the world’s economy and we expect that this will continue to grow with the increased cooperation and trade between countries that are signatories to the agreement. It is also an opportunity for New Zealand to consolidate and improve upon the already strong trade relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
“While we are disappointed that India is not yet a signatory to this deal, we hope that over time they will come to see the benefits that it offers and will join the agreement in the future.”
The agreement also benefits New Zealand as a whole, he said.
“Trade is an important driver of productivity, employment and incomes. One in every four New Zealanders in work today depends on exports for their livelihoods. Exports from our sector support 80,000 jobs and families across the country, particularly in our regions.”
Tim Ritchie, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association said the New Zealand red meat sector already has a significant volume of trade with RCEP economies and the industry was looking forward to further growth.
“We also remain hopeful that India will eventually join the agreement so the trade deal can fulfil its potential. India presents major opportunities for New Zealand meat exporters with expected future growth in the country’s population, rising disposable incomes and an increasing demand for improved food quality.”
The red meat sector is highly supportive of the Government’s efforts to liberalise trade and concluding this agreement is a significant step forward in our efforts to reduce tariffs and non-trade barriers worldwide.”