WELLINGTON, N.Z. – This week the 2nd Korea New Zealand Business Roundtable takes place in Seoul, South Korea, and New Zealand sheep and beef farmers will be strongly represented. Mike Petersen, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman, is attending the July 6 roundtable, along with senior business leaders from both Korea and New Zealand. Prime Minister John Key is giving the keynote address.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is a key sponsor of the roundtable, along with Anzco Foods, Asia New Zealand Foundation, Fonterra and Zespri. The roundtable’s theme is “innovation, growth and opportunity” and the event was organized by the New Zealand International Business Forum. Involved parties hope the discussions will strengthen business relationships between Korea and New Zealand, in support of the free-trade agreement (F.T.A.) negotiations currently underway.

Mr. Petersen intends to use the opportunity to highlight that grass-fed New Zealand beef and lamb are not a competitive threat to the Korean beef industry.

“The completion of an F.T.A. could improve the competitive position of both countries, with the exchange of Korean technology and New Zealand farming expertise,” he said. “With our relatively small scale and predominantly grass-fed production systems, New Zealand beef is not a threat to Korean farmers and never will be.”

Korea is New Zealand’s second-largest beef market by volume and a key market for co-products. New Zealand’s exports to Korea were worth NZ$153m (US$106.7 million) in 2009. Based on this figure, phasing out tariffs on beef and lamb products through an F.T.A. would eliminate about NZ$59 million (US$41 million) annually. Korean processors and consumers and New Zealand farmers would share these savings.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand strongly supports the New Zealand government’s FTA negotiations, Mr. Petersen said. “This is a key part of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s activity – supporting continuous improvements in market access and product positioning for our sheep and beef farmers,” he added. “Not only is Korea an important export market for New Zealand beef and co-products, it is also a key export destination for beef and co-products from third-country processors, such as the United States and Australia.

“Korea and the U.S. have already concluded F.T.A. negotiations and the resulting KORUS agreement is awaiting ratification,” he continued. “And Korea is currently engaged in F.T.A. discussions with Australia. A New Zealand-Korea F.T.A. would ensure New Zealand exporters are not at a competitive disadvantage.”

Mr. Petersen also planned to meet with Korean counterpart organizations, Korean Government officials and major retailers of New Zealand meat products in Seoul. He will also meet with Hanwoo Association and the Korean Beef and Dairy Farmers’ Association – to further highlight the complementary nature of New Zealand’s grass-fed beef and domestic Korean grain-fed product.

“New Zealand grass-fed animals have less marbled meat compared to Korean grain-fed cattle,” Mr. Petersen said. “The leaner New Zealand beef provides health-conscious consumers with an alternative product.”

Mr. Petersen also planned to visit key retailers in Korea.