New Zealand’s aquaculture and fisheries sector looks set to receive a multi-million pound boost following the successful conclusion of a trade deal with the European Union.

The agreement ends years of negotiation and sweeps away current restrictions, meaning almost all New Zealand seafood will be able to enter the EU tariff-free. It should be signed early next year.

Preliminary estimates suggest the agreement will deliver an additional NZ $20m (£10m) to the sector in tariff reductions alone.

Seafood New Zealand chief executive, Jeremy Helson, says this was welcome news, coming at a time when the industry was finding things tough.

The terms mean that 99.5% of New Zealand’s current fish and seafood trade will enter the EU tariff-free from day one, increasing to 99.9% within five years, and 100% within seven years, with tariff savings of NZ $19.6m (£10.1m) per annum.

New Zealand is a sizeable producer of farmed salmon. Tariffs will be eliminated at entry on almost all fish, and mussels, squid and other shellfish.

Helson said: “Seafood New Zealand would like to thank the negotiators, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Trade and Export Growth Minister, Damien O’Connor for getting this agreement over the line.”

The NZ-EU FTA has been in negotiations for seven years and is more valuable to New Zealand than the recently agreed NZ-UK free trade agreement. It will deliver NZ $100m (£51.4m) in tariff savings on all goods per annum from day one.

“This agreement is the boost that New Zealand’s primary sector has been desperate for and couldn’t have come at a better time for the seafood industry,” said Helson.

“New Zealand seafood exports are currently at NZ $1.9bn (£0.98bn) per year and the agreement with the EU will considerably increase those earnings.

“The impact of this deal will be felt right across the sector, from large companies to small family-run fishing businesses.

“The sector has been waiting for good news and this agreement delivers,” he added.

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