Posts Tagged ‘TPP’

Trade outlook still bright, but not without challenges

August 2, 2018

Vangelis Vitalis, Deputy Secretary for trade at MFAT and chief negotiator for the CPTPP due to take effect early next year, gave a very thorough and enthralling presentation on the trade landscape to the Red Meat Sector Conference in Napier on Monday. Free trade and market access are a key area of interest to the New Zealand meat industry and the economy as a whole. (more…)

CPTPP to the rescue

November 23, 2017

This is truly the age of acronyms – TPP morphed into TPP11 which has now added a couple of initials while actually shrinking in scope from its original intent. But unlikely as it has seemed at several points along its tortuous journey, the mother of all trade deals, or maybe now the stepmother, is still alive in spite of Trump’s and Trudeau’s unsubtle efforts to hijack it. (more…)

Trade access landscape increasingly crowded

August 17, 2016

At the same time as the TPP is struggling to get across the finish line before the next American President takes over early next year, there are several signs of access to the USA freeing up for some of New Zealand’s competitors.

 

The announcement of greatest significance concerns access for Brazilian beef after 17 years of negotiations which will be permitted to begin in September. (more…)

Resistance or resilience – which best characterises the red meat sector?

July 28, 2016

The Red Meat Sector Conference held in Auckland on Monday did not have one single theme, but a series of themes across the day, starting with the question ‘resistance or resilience?’ Past history suggests the answer might most logically be both rather than a choice between the two options. (more…)

Upbeat conference attracts 200+ delegates

July 28, 2016

The delegates at the 2016 Red Meat Sector Conference were challenged and entertained by a stimulating range of guest speakers and New Zealand icons the Topp Twins. (more…)

Changing world will suit our red meat sector

June 24, 2016

When sheep and beef farmers are questioning whether they will ever receive the returns they need, there is potentially considerable hope for the future. The changing demographics and spheres of global influence indicate a substantial change in the relative economic power of the markets with which we trade. (more…)

Changes afoot in Japanese rice farming

November 6, 2014

I picked up quite by accident an article in today’s (20 October) The Star, a Malaysian English language newspaper, which described significant changes in Japan’s rice farming habits. Under the headline ‘Japan rice farmers rotting from inside’, the AFP article describes how many rice farmers are retiring with few interested in replacing them.

 

There is a photo of Shuichi Yokota, aged 38, checking growth conditions with a smartphone in his rice field 70 km from Tokyo. The article describes how he, at half the age of the average grower, flies on cutting edge technology to cultivate vast Padi fields which are many times larger than most of the country’s rice plots.

 

His farm in Ryugasaki is 112 ha, having expanded five fold in 15 years, simply, he says, because retiring farmers have asked him to cultivate their farms on their behalf, not wanting to sell the land, but having nobody who wants to buy it. While most rice farmers get along on centuries old methods, Yokota and his colleagues share information and data such as temperature and water levels, monitored by sensors installed in each paddy, on their smartphones.

 

People are now betting that farmers like Yokota are the best hope of fixing the inefficient Japanese farming system, cosseted by decades of protectionism. Prices for rice have tumbled by half in 50 years and there are fears the sector is rotting from the inside. It also appears Yokota and his like are relaxed about the prospect of opening the market up to foreign competition.

 

For years central government has stabilised prices by controlling supply and penalising over-production, as a means of protecting farmers, a key voter base, from the impact of world market volatility. This policy of small scale cultivation, known as  ‘gentian’, has effectively made rice farming a part-time job for the older generation while the younger family members get on with higher paid jobs in other sectors.

 

Unfortunately the age of farmers is 66 on average and many are retiring with few looking to replace them. There is now an area of 400,000 ha, almost twice the size of Tokyo, of unused farmland across Japan. Another complication is the entry of the country’s largest supermarket chain Aeon into the rice business which presumably means more competition and a drive for cheaper prices, not to mention production methods.

 

It occurs to me that, while Japan continues to obstruct the efforts of TPP signatories to eliminate agricultural tariffs, it may be faced with an inevitable drive from within to do away with historical levels of tariff protection. It may not happen this year or next, but change is afoot.

Changing beef outlook

April 12, 2014

There have been some interesting beef market developments in recent days.

 

Of immediate interest is the news of a forecast excess of US exports over production in the second half of the year as against a relatively small increase in production, reported in the USDA livestock supply and demand report which was released yesterday.

 

This leads to a prediction of firmer prices for lean beef, although this will coincide with the seasonal downturn in New Zealand production. Australia is expected to be in a good position to take advantage of this situation.

 

The other item of interest is the bi-lateral trade agreement between Japan and Australia which will reduce the tariff on frozen beef from 38.5% to 19.5% over 18 years and on fresh beef to 23.5% over 15 years.

 

While this may appear to be unduly slow, all other countries’ beef tariffs will remain at the 38.5% rate, until or unless the TPP agreement is concluded. It would be difficult for Japan to expect to negotiate a less favourable deal with signatories to the TPP, and if more favourable the terms of the Australian FTA would be amended to match it.

 

In the meantime New Zealand’s beef exports to Japan will have to compete with Australian product at gradually decreasing tariff rates.

 

What is significant here is that the FTA has taken seven years to negotiate, but indicates an increasing willingness to open up the fiercely protective Japanese agricultural sector under pressure from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Cheese has also benefited under the terms of the FTA with Australia permitted to export a further 20,000 tonnes.

 

Japan has a highly protected and subsidised farm sector, particularly in the areas of rice, beef, pork, dairy, and sugar and its powerful farm lobby has long resisted any efforts to liberalise trade in those products. It will be fascinating to see how successful Abe is in encouraging more concessions in pursuit of the TPP.

 

Equally he could find himself going down the path taken by all Prime Ministers of recent years which has seen Japanese trade policy stagnate in the face of opposition and an inability to get reform measures through the Japanese parliament.

Trade deals coming thick and fast

December 5, 2013

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The TPP may not be happening as soon as expected, but free trade agreements with individual markets, Chinese Taipei and Peru, will come into effect, some aspects immediately, and provide more immediate rewards for our exporters. (more…)