Fonterra said today the announcement of full Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with Russia and its Customs Union partners, Belarus and Kazakhstan, had the potential to make the region an even more important partner for the New Zealand dairy industry. This announcement follows the successful conclusion of preliminary FTA scoping talks between the four countries which started in May 2010.Trade Minister Tim Groser and Elvira Nabiullina, the Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister, made the announcement at the APEC trade summit in Japan. The first round of FTA negotiations is likely to occur in early 2011.
Russia is one of the world's largest market for imports of butter and cheese and a significant dairy export market for New Zealand. New Zealand dairy exports to Russia, mostly butter and cheese, were last year worth around $120 million.
"New Zealand dairy producers have a long history of supplying Russia with high quality food products. Building on these foundations, Russia has the potential to become an even more important market for the New Zealand dairy industry and for Fonterra," said Kelvin Wickham, Fonterra Group Director, Supplier & External Relations.
"The work of Trade Minister Tim Groser and Foreign Minister Murray McCully has greatly assisted New Zealand to reach this stage. We look forward to the continued efforts of the New Zealand Government to ensure that these important negotiations quickly progress to a successful conclusion," Mr Wickham said.