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Commissioner Thanks Kiwis for Settling a Log-jam Over Butter Imports

  • December 3rd, 2006
  • Posted by EUEditor

nz-flag-smaller.gifNew rules will remove a monopoly and clear the way for continuation of New Zealand butter sales to the European Union.

A settlement has been reached to allow New Zealand butter imports into Europe to continue, meeting the demands of a court ruling which outlawed the trade as a monopoly.

The German dairy company Egenberger obtained a ruling from the European Court of Justice last July, invalidating the management rules for import of the butter.

That was because import licences were only going to subsidiaries of one company, Fonterra, which had an export monopoly in New Zealand.

Under new rules, taking in points additional to the monopoly question:

  • From next year 55% of the NZ quota will go to “traditional” importers of New Zealand butter, defined according to the level of their 2006 imports, and the balance will be available to “newcomers”.

  • The basic, total quota will be 77, 402 tonnes.

  • The butterfat standard will change, from 80/82% to 80/85% – bringing a commensurate reduction in the quota of 3.5% – to 74,693 tonnes.

  • The tariff will drop, from EU86.88 (A$ 146.90; NZ$168.66; Dcerates) per tonne, to EU70 (A$118.36; NZ$35.89) per tonne.

  • Traders applying for an import licence will have to lodge a security of EU35 (A$59.18; NZ$67.95) per 100 kilograms.

The European Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, said there had been lengthy consultations with New Zealand officials.

“I am extremely pleased with this outcome, which respects the Court’s ruling and takes account of the issues raised both by New Zealand and European dairy companies.

“It was important to find a solution before the end of the year to allow trade to continue to flow smoothly.

“I’d like to thank the New Zealanders for their constructive attitude throughout,” she said.

New Zealand obtained its separate quota to continue importing butter into the United Kingdom, at the time of British entry into the then European Economic Community in 1973.

The new rules adjust it to current competition practices within the European single market, providing more access to the business, to more traders from more countries.

Decisions taken are subject to confirmation by the European Council and European Commission.


European Commission DG Communication; European Commission proposes new import arrangements for New Zealand butter, IP/06/1662. Brussels, 30.11.06; (2.12.06)