Lest they forget

NZ’s red meat exports face troubling times in the wake of Brexit

IN THE last week the words ‘Lest we forget’ have been much used as most of the western world remembers Armistice Day and of course the same applies to ANZAC.

The British and Europeans use these words a lot. However, it seems that in terms of trade a more appropriate phrase might be ‘Let us forget ASAP’.

This is what is happening at the moment as Beef + Lamb NZ’s  chief executive Sam McIvor has so frankly stated.  The Brits and the EU, in a freakish display of self-indulgence, self-interest and desperation to cut a Brexit deal, have decided that NZ is dispensible. This means that the legal agreement signed according to WTO rules and in good faith by Britain, the EU and NZ is not worth the paper it is written on and somehow their self-made problems are best solved by doing the dirty on NZ.

Specifically we are talking about the decision by the EU and UK to rip up the agreement on how the quota of NZ sheepmeat should be distributed between the two entities come Brexit day. The legal agreement says the quota should be flexible and this has worked well to the advantage of all parties and has prevented markets being flooded with product and has allowed for the orderly sale of our lamb and mutton. The EU and UK want a 50/50 split which is nonsense. One wonders what drugs their negotiators are on to come up with such a dumb idea.

History, unfortunately, suggests that when it comes to the rights of smaller nations, the EU and the UK have often been missing in action. In 1939, when Poland was invaded, Britain did declare war on Germany, but did nothing tangible to defend the Polish people.

NZ accepted the right of Britain to enter the EU and to be fair it made sense. But to welch on a legal agreement with a friend and a member of the Commonwealth is another thing. Many NZers regard Britain as ‘home’; well, right now the shutters are up, the doors are locked and the welcome mat has gone.  Great friend, yeah right.