Chip Mountain

Earlier this year, Leo Varadkar (Taoiseach of Eire) was reported to have said: “I don’t think the UK has yet come to terms with the fact it’s now a small country. I think the reality of the situation is that the European Union is a union of 27 member states. The UK is only one country”. The EU’s attitude towards Britain has not been lost on other trading nations throughout the world.
One of the side effects of the Covid-19 lockdowns is that restaurants and fast food outlets are not selling as many french fries as previously. Consequently, there is a mountain of 2.6 million tons of frozen EU chips looking for export markets.
The population of New Zealand is less than 10% of the U.K.’s and their farmers are apprehensive that there will be a chip tsunami heading their way. Potato NZ have discussed possible responses with the NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) should there be a flood of EU chips on the NZ market.
In a typical bureaucrat fashion, the Government have responded that they are keeping an eye on the situation and that under WTO rules there needed to be evidence of actual harm or a risk of harm to the industry before an anti-dumping action could be taken.
When I first read of Potato NZ’s action, I thought it was a case of crying before you are hurt. But it is. NZ’s potato growers supply approximately 85% of their domestic market, a large proportion of which is consumed in the hospitality business.
They are quite rightly fearful that EU producers will roll over them like invading tanks.
Meanwhile NZ and the EU are negotiating a free trade agreement. If NZ is to have open borders for EU goods, then the potato growers of N.Z. are not the only ones who should be feeling fearful.

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