Obama supports Trans Pacific Partnership

by Bryan Salvage
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WELLINGTON, N.Z. — President Barack Obama’s support for moving ahead with negotiations to join the Trans Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.) is fantastic news and congratulations must go to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Trade Minister Tim Groser and officials for achieving what is likely to be a hugely significant agreement for New Zealand in the context of world trade, said Meat & Wool New Zealand (M&W N.Z.) and the Meat Industry Association (M.I.A.).

This announcement continues the recent momentum of trade liberalization and free-trade agreements with New Zealand’s major trading partners, said Mike Petersen, chairman, M&W N.Z. The progress is even more important due to the lack of a successful conclusion to the World Trade Organization round, which remains New Zealand’s most important trade priority.

"The U.S. economy is the biggest in the world with a large number of affluent consumers that value our premium meat products," Mr. Petersen said. "Economically and geographically, the U.S. would be a very important addition to our bilateral trade agreements, adding to the Pacific Rim of agreements and building on those already developed with a range of countries in Asia."

Bill Falconer, M.I.A. chairman, said the news was a significant signal with the U.S. being New Zealand’s largest beef export destination receiving 178,000 tonnes (50% total New Zealand volume) in 2008 and generating NZ$786 million ($587 million) — 42% of total New Zealand beef export value.

The U.S. is New Zealand’s fourth-largest lamb export market taking 6% of sheepmeat exports by volume. Thirty-seven percent of New Zealand lamb shipments to the U.S. are chilled.

U.S. per capita lamb consumption at 1.1 lbs. is low by key market standards, but it presents a long-term opportunity to raise consumption, Mr. Falconer said.

Once it includes the U.S., the T.P.P. would bring equality between Australia and New Zealand, given the access arrangements Australia has to the U.S. under their F.T.A., Mr. Petersen said.

"We congratulate President Obama on taking this important step while working through a number of important domestic issues, and it reinforces our view that encouraging a better trading environment will hasten the recovery of the global economy," Mr. Petersen said.

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