New Zealand's red meat sector says the upgrade of the free trade agreement between New Zealand and China will help further streamline trade between the two countries.
The upgrade would simplify export procedures, remove a level of administration and paperwork, and reduce compliance costs for red meat exporters, Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association (MIA) said in a statement.
MIA anticipated a reduction in the time exporters spent waiting for goods to clear customs, along with enhanced transparency and predictability for businesses.
"Which is great news for New Zealand's largest manufacturing sector and farmers," Karapeeva said.
"The strategic value of an FTA upgrade with New Zealand's largest trading partner cannot be underestimated, and this agreement highlights a deepening of our bilateral relationship with China."
Meanwhile Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, congratulated Minister of Trade and Export Growth Damien O'Connor and the negotiating team.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic presented challenges to the negotiation of the agreement, McIvor said.
"We appreciate the work that both sides have put in to conclude this process. At the same time, our strong and stable relationship with China has been critical through this turbulent period."
The China-New Zealand free trade agreement had provided significant benefits to New Zealand's red meat sector since its original signing in 2008, McIvor said.
Since then, New Zealand's exports to China had grown from around $600 million to $3.5. billion a year, with China now making up over 36 per cent of the sector's exports overall, McIvor said.
"Reaffirming the strength of this relationship through the FTA upgrade is significant and confirms the importance of China as one of New Zealand's most important trading partners."
Chinese consumers were demanding red meat products with the high food safety and quality standards that New Zealand red meat producers provided, McIvor said.
The FTA upgrade would allow for the self-declaration of origin. Currently, exporters needed a certification of origin from the Chambers of Commerce.
Listen to Jamie Mackay interview Sirma Karapeeva on The Country below:
It also included provisions for expedited clearance of perishable goods with clearance times through the border within six hours of arrival.
There would also be improvements of arrangements for products transiting through other countries.