by Dai Davies, HCC chairman
WE were pleased to welcome representatives from Beef and Lamb New Zealand Ltd. (BLNZ) to our office in Aberystwyth in February for a discussion on the future of the global lamb sector. Although future trade arrangements are the responsibility of our respective governments, it’s important to keep lines communications open and understand each others’ points of view. BLNZ director Andrew Morrison and Europe regional manager Ben O’Brien also had the opportunity to meet FUW leaders and other industry representatives who raised a number of issues of concern to the industry. Under current rules, New Zealand can export up to 228,000 tonnes of sheepmeat to the EU free of tariffs. At present around half of New Zealand’s European lamb exports come to the UK. It is unsurprising therefore that recent references to a free trade deal with New Zealand have alarmed Welsh Lamb producers. We had a full and frank discussion with Andrew Morrison and Ben O’Brien. As the most wellknown lamb brands in the world, it is inevitable that we are in direct competition in many areas but we also have a common interest in growing the lamb category across the globe. One thing that is certain is the way in which imports of New Zealand lamb come into our country when Welsh Lamb is in abundance, aggravates our industry. We raised this point and clearly stated that it is completely unacceptable. Inevitably, the lead‐up to Brexit was a major topic of discussion. The dominant theme at the moment is uncertainty. We don’t know how the landscape will look in terms of tariffs and trade in Britain and the EU from 2019, until we see how negotiations progress between relevant governments. It is also unknown how much of the current EU quota allocation for New Zealand lamb will be taken up by the UK after Brexit. The meeting, however, was constructive and it is important that an ongoing dialogue is maintained between our two industry bodies. Both parties openly discussed the problems facing our industries and how we’d like to see things develop in the future. HCC looks forward to continuing the constructive dialogue with BLNZ and to ensuring that Wales’ agricultural industry has a strong voice in any future trade discussions between the UK and New Zealand Governments.