Executive Director Stephen Jacobi read out on the recent Delhi business mission, published earlier by Newsroom.

read more

Cutting back WTO Tariff Rate Quotas post-Brexit is Unjustified

by | Apr 25, 2019 | Media Releases


23 April 2019
Joint statement – NZ Food and Beverage Exporters

In light of the latest extension to the Article 50 Brexit deadline, organisations representing New Zealand’s largest food and beverage exporters are highlighting the need for the EU and UK to use this time to work constructively with trade partners to avoid the unwarranted cutbacks of their WTO tariff rate quotas and legally binding WTO commitments.

The EU and UK have argued that cutbacks to their WTO tariff rate quotas (TRQs) are necessary in order to facilitate the UK’s exit from the EU. The terminology used by the EU/UK – “apportionment”- sounds mild but hides the harsh reality that they are undermining the quality and quantity of the EU/UK access commitments and seriously disadvantaging third country exporters. Without this quota access, many third country exporters would be shut out of the EU/UK markets due to prohibitively high tariffs.

In some cases, this “apportionment” would completely do away with all current quota access into the UK or cut back access by 95% – 99.9%. The figures are just as alarming for the EU side which would see reduced quota access into its market ranging from 11% to 100%.

The EU and UK commitments are clearly set out at the WTO and there is no need for these to change, Brexit notwithstanding.  There are wider ramifications from a precedent being established by the EU and UK actions which adversely affects WTO members and erodes current levels of liberalisation.

Further, it seems the EU and UK are inconsistent by adopting one rule in the case of their multilateral trade commitments and a completely different one for their bilateral trade commitments.  With some current EU bilateral FTA partners, the entirety of their quota access into the EU seems to have been preserved and additional, separate, quotas created for access into the UK post-Brexit.

This different treatment creates major problems.

The WTO is an essential foundation of the rules-based trade architecture. It has strengthened trading partnerships and provides a level playing field for all economies alike. New Zealand food and beverage exporters hold significant concerns about the future of the multilateral trading system if apparently committed multilateralists like the EU and UK would want to walk back on liberalisation commitments and further disadvantage their trade partners through their approach to Brexit. This is a grim prospect for a small trading economy like New Zealand. 

At a time of increased protectionism, the loss of enforceable rules would mean the loss of predictable access to international markets. We all have a lot to lose if countries opt to backslide from their commitments, without regard for the consequences. 

We encourage the EU and UK to use the opportunity provided by the extension to the Brexit deadline to change their approach. There are ways to resolve this matter in a mutually acceptable manner. But this requires open minds and a constructive dialogue to find solutions that properly honour existing WTO commitments and avoid wholesale re-negotiation of those commitments, for which trade partners would need to be compensated. 

As organisations representing the majority of New Zealand’s primary sector exported goods, we fully support Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, along with Trade and Economic Growth Minister, Hon. David Parker, and officials, in working with the EU and UK, and with other like-minded countries to find a way to make sure New Zealand exporters are no worse off as a result of Brexit.


Register to stay up to date with latest news, as well as saving and discussing articles you’re interested in.




Latest News


Published by Newsroom on 6 September 2023 Stephen Jacobi reports on the recent business delegation to India. Every country has its contrasts and a subcontinent of 1.4 billion with thousands of years of history has more than most.  Today’s India can reach the...

Large business delegation bound for India

MEDIA RELEASE - Tuesday 22 August, 2023 Fifty business representatives will leave later this week bound for Delhi, making it one of the largest delegations ever to head for India. The delegation, comprising members and senior leaders of five business organisations,...

India and New Zealand: The next innings

As published in the NZ Herald, 18 August 2023 By Stephen Jacobi As a trade mission prepares to depart for Delhi, Stephen Jacobi of the New Zealand International Business Forum considers the prospects for growing two-way trade and investment between India and New...


As published in the NZ Herald, 18 August 2023. By Stephen Jacobi, Executive Director, NZ International Business Forum. Following the Ministers’ meeting in Auckland, what is the outlook for CPTPP as the world’s most ambitious free trade agreement? When Ministers...


The Australia-New Zealand Leadership, the semi-annual gathering of Ministers and business leaders, has been described as a “successful symbol of trans-Tasman togetherness[1]”.  And the togetherness vibe was certainly present when the Forum gathered in Wellington...


This post was published by Hinrich Foundation on 18 July 2023. Following the Ministers’ meeting in Auckland, what is the outlook for CPTPP as the world’s most ambitious free trade agreement ? By Stephen Jacobi When APEC Trade Ministers gathered for their annual...