The EU-New Zealand (NZ) trade deal came into effect this week, largely under the radar, because it is one of the less controversial trade deals in recent times.

The reason that it has been relatively uncontroversial is that it limited the extent of access for sensitive agri-food products to relatively modest tariff quota volumes, particularly when compared with the level of access given to New Zealand by the UK in their negotiation.

Prior to the agreement, NZ had a quota for the EU market of 1,100 tonnes of beef at a favourable 20% tariff.

From 1 May, this increased to 3,333t at a reduced 7.5% tariff and will increase by annual increments until it reaches 10,000t after seven years.

NZ already has a 125,769t tariff-free sheepmeat quota for the EU, which is a legacy of UK membership of the EU.

This has never been filled, but NZ secured an additional 12,666t of sheepmeat quota from 1 May, rising to 38,000t after seven years with a zero rate tariff.


NZ negotiators made significant gains on access to EU dairy markets, with a combination of additional quotas and reduced tariff levels on existing quotas.

On butter, an additional 5,000t quota is granted, rising to 15,000t after seven years. This will be subject to a reduced quota of between NZ$660 and $800 (€330 and €440) per tonne and the existing 21,000t quota will also get this new preferable rate, down from NZ$1,220 (€675) per tonne prior to the deal coming into effect.

NZ was granted an additional 8,333t of cheese quota on 1 May, which will increase incrementally to 25,000t after year seven.

This new quota will be at a zero rate tariff and this will also apply to the existing 6,031t cheese quota, which had been subject to a NZ$300 (€165) per tonne tariff prior to the agreement coming into effect.

On milk powders, NZ has a 5,000t quota with effect from 1 May, which will grow to 15,000t from year seven.

This will come with a tariff between NZ$420 and $460 per tonne, which is 20% of the standard EU tariff on milk powders.

A tariff-free quota for 1,167t of high protein whey is also in the agreement from 1 May, which will increase to 3,500t from year six.


Every trade deal increases competition for Irish and EU farmers to some extent. Compared with the ultimate unlimited access NZ secured to the UK market, the deal with the EU is much more restricted, but there are wins for NZ nonetheless.

Very meaningful access has been secured for a range of dairy products, as well as tariffs on existing quotas being reduced.

A substantial increase on the sheepmeat quota was also secured by NZ, but this is academic, as it hasn’t come close to filling the existing quota in recent years.

For beef, a 10,000t quota may represent close to a tenfold increase on the existing quota, but it is modest in relation to the 99,000t quota granted in the Mercosur negotiation. For Irish farmers, it could have been worse.