WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk’s comments that he wants to continue the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership talks is a positive signal being welcomed by Meat & Wool New Zealand.

It was good to hear the Obama administration is looking for more trade engagement with the Asia-Pacific area, said Mike Petersen, chairman, Meat & Wool New Zealand. "There is a lot of potential for New Zealand sheep and beef farmers to further develop markets in the United States," he added. "The U.S. is our biggest beef-export market and while these exports have fallen slightly in recent years, this has been due to opportunities in other markets like North Asia."

The U.S. is the number-one market for New Zealand beef, taking 42% of New Zealand’s beef exports. It was worth $470 million in the year ending December 2008. The U.S. imported 174,000 tonnes of New Zealand beef in 2008 under New Zealand’s C.S.T.Q. For this quota, there is an in-quota tariff of US4.4c/kg. This amounts to around $7.7 million paid in tariffs. The out-of-quota tariff is 26.4%.

New Zealand pays tariffs of 0.7-2.8c/kg on sheepmeat exports to the U.S. The U.S. is New Zealand’s second most-valuable market for lamb behind the European Union. New Zealand exports around 24,000 tonnes of sheepmeat to the U.S. annually worth about $130 million.