Tentative moves to restart talks on a new world trade pact after the Seattle fiasco imply New Zealand access to the British lamb market will go back into the melting pot. But a subtle difference can be detected between the attitudes of NZ exporters and their government as they contemplate the prospect of a fight over rights. In trade talks, New Zealand is an aggressive supporter of free market principles, but officials in the market development organisation Meat New Zealand ­ a farmer-financed outfit with a quasi-diplomatic role ­ privately admit that they "can live with the present arrangements". They reason that Brussels will remain protectionist for the foreseeable future and New Zealand's present 226,700 tonne quota is generous. Protectionism also means sheepmeat is expensive within the EU, so tariff-free access gives them higher returns than might be earned from shipping bigger volumes under a less restrictive regime. {{MEAT }}

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