Trouble at the border in China is holding up supplies of New Zealand meat and costing the industry money, weekend news reports say.
The news of Chinese officials blocking New Zealand exports at the border, broke on Friday in Stuff and subsequently the issue is keeping New Zealand meat off supermarket shelves. The issue has also been aired on TV3. The problem is said to be stem from the change of name on the export certification in early March from the old Ministry of Agriculture to the new Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and not from any issue of food safety. However, dairy products and beef hides are managing to get through the border. Embassy staff and MPI are working around the clock to solve the problem and are confident it can be done quickly. No meat has been destroyed. The majority is frozen and refrigerated and chilled meat is being given priority clearance, says MPI.
A strategic plan for promoting agricultural co-operation between New Zealand and China was signed on 24 April, by New Zealand Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and his counterpart, the Chinese Minister of Agriculture Hang Changfu, who was visiting New Zealand at the time.
“This is an important agreement which will encourage co-operation and the sharing of knowledge to benefit both countries,” said Guy. The plan sets our areas in which both countries can learn from each other, such as animal welfare and science, increasing productivity and building skills and knowledge.
“Since the signing of the Free Trade Agreement in 2008 our exports to China have nearly tripled, from $2 billion a year to $6.9 billion in 2012.
“Two way trade between China and New Zealand has almost reached $15 billion. Our aim is to double bilateral trade to $20 billion by 2015 and we’re on track to achieve that goal,” said the Minister. “This strategic plan will open wider the channels for co-operation, including between our industry organisations and companies,” he said, adding that China is also keen to learn from New Zealand, given our strong reputation for food safety and quality food products.”
The agreement runs from 2013-2017 and can be updated at any time. Minister Han Changu’s visit to New Zealand follows a visit by Prime Minister John Key to China in early April.
Two other initiatives were announced earlier in April by the Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce aimed at strengthening science and innovation links between New Zealand and China.
The first was the establishment of a new science and innovation counsellor position in Beijing. China is the third region where New Zealand has appointed such a counsellor, the other two being in the US and Europe. The second initiative is a renewed scientist exchange programme, with collaboration being targeted at non-communicable diseases, food security and safety and water research. The programme will run for three years and up to 10 scientists will travel in each direction each year to engage in projects.
China overtakes Australia as No 1 export market
China overtook Australia as New Zealand’s top export destination for the first time in the March 2013 quarter, according to Statistics NZ. Overseas merchandise trade figures for the quarter showed that good exported to China were valued at $2.2 billion. January 2013 was the first month in which exports to China surpassed those to Australia. This continued for every month of the quarter.
“Twenty percent of good exported from New Zealand went to China in the March 2013 quarter,” industry and labour statistics manager Louise Holmes-Oliver said. “This compares with 15 percent in the same quarter last year.”