NZ signs deal with Iran on meat exports

NZ City– New Zealand has inked an agreement with Iran paving the way for the resumption of meat exports to the second-largest economy in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The Iranian Veterinary Organisation and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries agreed to a Meat Arrangement which provides the conditions for chilled and frozen sheep and beef exports to resume with Iran, according to a statement from New Zealand Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy who witnessed the agreement in Tehran with his counterpart, Iranian Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati.

New Zealand meat exports to Iran failed to pick up following the lifting of sanctions last year because of Iranian restrictions for one of its vets and a mullah to be present at the time of processing, while New Zealand meat exporters rely on halal standards overseen by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The Iranian requirement for an official to oversee the processing of all product exported to Iran was difficult for New Zealand meat processors to comply with because they divide animals into a range of cuts for distribution to specific global markets.

“This is a crucial step for New Zealand meat companies as they look to re-enter the Iranian market,” Mr Guy said.

Meat is New Zealand’s second-largest commodity export after dairy, and was worth $5.92 billion in 2016.

The ministers also discussed an action plan for agricultural cooperation in the year ahead, Mr Guy said.

The two countries are also working on kiwifruit opportunities in Iran, where import restrictions prevent New Zealand from selling the country’s most valuable fresh fruit export.

New Zealand kiwifruit marketer Zespri International and Iran’s Ministry of Agriculture signed a Statement of Intent outlining undertakings to further explore commercial opportunities in Iran, Mr Guy said.

Iran has well-established kiwifruit orchards and supply chains and produces the fruit in New Zealand’s off-season, he said.

Along with other Western countries, New Zealand lifted sanctions against Iran in February last year after the country agreed to roll back its nuclear ambitions.