French sheep farmers warn against EU/NZ trade deal

A PROPOSED trade deal between New Zealand and the EU would see 38,000 tonnes lamb arrive at half the price of its competitors, French farming leaders have warned.

The president of the French National Sheep Federation, Michèle Boudoin, warned: “This agreement foresees sending 38,000 extra tonnes of sheep meat to Europe every year over the next seven years. On top of the current 114,000.

“We know how this is going to happen – our sector was globalised very early on, in the 1990s,” said Mr Boudoin. “The sheep is a very political animal. A bargaining chip. Since then, 228,000 tonnes of tax-free sheep are imported into Europe every year (with the United Kingdom at the time). Since then, the industry has been in decline. And this new agreement will make the situation even worse.”

The French sheep farmer went on to complain about the timing of NZ shipments of lamb hitting the shelves every year at Easter: “This is the most important time for our industry. Lamb is ecumenical and is eaten at Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim Easter in March.

“This means that NZ lambs can be found alongside Irish, Spanish and English lambs killed a few days earlier. The latter are sold for between €15 and €17 per kilo. €23 for the French. While the New Zealanders don’t exceed €10. Two and a half times cheaper. And this without any indication to the consumer, neither on the date of slaughter nor on the method of preservation.”

 

John Sleigh / The Scottish Farmer

 

Parliament urged to reject Australia deal

National Beef Association chief executive Neil Shand has called on Parliament to reject the Australia trade deal in a bid to force the Government back into negotiations.

Speaking to Farmers Guardian after appearing before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee this week, Mr Shand said while he believed the ‘horse may have bolted’ on the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), there was hope for a better arrangement for farmers if Parliament threw out the deal.

Industry groups have already raised concerns over the scrutiny of trade agreements, which is governed by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (CRAG). Under CRAG rules, if a trade deal is tabled in Parliament, and MPs do not vote against it, it is automatically ratified. If MPs do vote against the deal, Ministers can re-table it and the Commons has 21 days to delay the process again, with this cycle able to go on indefinitely.

“We would urge Parliament not to vote the deal through and go back and re-negotiate on better terms,” Mr Shand said.

“While there may be benefits to the UK economy, there is no benefit to British beef whatsoever. They [the Government] need to learn that by rushing to secure a deal, mistakes have been made.”

 

 

by Jane Thynne / Farmers Guardian

China suspends Lithuanian beef as Taiwan row grows

BEIJING/VILNIUS (Reuters) -China suspended imports of beef, dairy and beer from Lithuania this week, Lithuania’s veterinary control agency said on Thursday, amid a growing trade dispute over the Baltic nation’s relations with Taiwan.

China’s General Administration of Customs had informed the country it was halting the exports due to “lack of documentation”, the agency said in a statement.

It added that “this is first such notification we ever received, because the importing countries usually start by asking for any missing information”.

The Chinese agency said earlier on Thursday it had stopped imports of Lithuanian beef but gave no specific reason.

Relations frayed after Lithuania allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in its capital Vilnius last year, angering Beijing which regards the democratically-ruled island as its own territory.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Wednesday during a visit to Australia that nations seeking to use trade as a retaliatory measure must be reminded that “like-minded countries have tools and regulations that help withstand the coercion”.

Britain said on Monday it will join the United States and Australia in backing an EU trade case against China at the World Trade Organization over Beijing’s alleged trade curbs on Lithuania.

 

 

By Dominique Patton, Andrius Sytas / Reuters

Lamb exports to the EU will return to pre-Brexit levels, says Eustice

Defra Secretary George Eustice has claimed lamb exports to the EU will return to pre-Brexit levels in future.

British sheepmeat exports to the bloc have fallen by 25 per cent since the UK left the EU, with industry leaders blaming the sharp drop on non-tariff barriers such as paperwork and checks.

Last year, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) warned UK meat exporters were having to spend an extra £1,000 to send a lorry through a port.

Smaller exporters, in particular, have struggled to handle the 29 different processes required to send meat to the continent.

Giving evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee this week (February 1), Mr Eustice said he expected the trade to bounce back over the coming years.

“Things like salmon have actually seen an increase in their exports since we have left the European Union, driven by high demand for premium product,” he told the MPs.

“I think we will see a similar situation on our other major agricultural exports like lamb. There will be some impact because of the additional export processes which are required and the costs associated with that, but the big exports we rely on will resume just as Scottish salmon already has.”

But National Sheep Association (NSA) chief executive Phil Stocker questioned whether this would be the case.

“[Trade] will never return to the way it used to be, and seeing the effect border control posts and export health certificate controls are having on exporters, I do not see our volumes to the EU returning to where they were,” he said.

 

 

 

By Abi Kay  / Farmers Guardian

 

China suspends importation of more Australian beef as trade battle escalates

China has suspended the importation of more Australian beef, this time from Meramist Pty Ltd, the sixth supplier to face such a move in a country that is one of China’s main meat suppliers.

China made the decision yesterday but did not provide a reason.

It has already banned imports from five other Australian beef suppliers this year, citing reasons that have included issues with labelling and health certificates.

Australia’s ties with China – its top trade partner – were already strained. The relationship has significantly deteriorated since Canberra called for an enquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.

China stopped receiving applications and registration for beef exports from the Meramist plant from 7 December, China’s General Administration of Customs said in a notice on its website, without giving a reason.

Mike Eathorne, the general manager of Meramist, told the ABC last night he had only just received the news.

“I was advised five minutes ago and I have been given absolutely no reasons,” he said, adding he could not comment further.

 

Reuters /ABC