One of the world’s largest agricultural businesses has challenged Angela Merkel and the rest of the German government to do more to forge better trade access for the country’s fruit exporters in Asia.
Having acquired New Zealand fresh produce company Turners & Growers (T&G) in early 2012, German conglomerate BayWa has found itself in the frustrating position of being able to ship its Southern Hemisphere-grown apples to China, but unable to do the same with fruit grown in Germany.
As well as China, BayWa’s strategy for growth at T&G is centred around expanding market share in several other Asian countries – Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and India included – but in many instances the absence of an official trade agreement that brings down tariffs and non-tariff barriers remains a stumbling block for the group’s German producers.
Klaus Josef Lutz (pictured), chief executive of BayWa, said German agricultural politicians should take significantly more initiative to conclude trade agreements for German fruit exports in Asia.
“If we do not get such agreements for Germany as soon as possible, apple producers in our country will have serious problems within two years at the latest,” he warned.
“This is the reason why economic and agricultural politicians in Germany must now concentrate their efforts fully on such agreements.”
BayWa will no doubt have looked on with envy at the news that Poland has signed a deal with Vietnam to export its apples to the Asian country.
Poland has also recently signed deals similar agreements with Algeria, Canada, Cyprus, Egypt and Morocco.
“Polish politicians have demonstrated that trade agreements can be negotiated and signed within one year instead of years,” Lutz observed. “German agricultural politicians can learn a lesson from this.”
While he noted that Poland’s efforts have largely been in response to the loss of its main market, Russia, Lutz said the fact remained that all European producers would have to capitalise on new opportunities in Asia in order to cope with the kind of price pressures resulting from a bumper crop, as is the case this season.
“Although marketers together with producers somewhat mastered this significant crisis, everybody understands now how much we need marketing opportunities mainly in the growing Asian markets,” he said.
“Our New Zealand subsidiaries that have already been successful in China show us what kind of opportunities are possible here.
“Other countries are already much further along, such as the Netherlands, for example. This is shameful for an export nation such as Germany.”