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Meat protocols open up Chinese market

New market access protocols signed today by New Zealand and China were significant for the meat industry and New Zealand, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said.

The two protocols were officially signed today at Ruakura by Minister Li Changjiang of the General Administration Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China and Mr Sutton in the presence of Prime Minister Helen Clark and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

One of the protocols covers sheep and goat meat, the other beef. New Zealand’s meat exports to China are substantial. Last year New Zealand exported more than $130 million of meat to China.

Mr Sutton said the protocols paved the way for expanding New Zealand’s meat trade to China.

He said the two protocols put our meat trade to China on a sounder footing and gave exporters the opportunity to sell higher value cuts into more lucrative segments of the market.

“New Zealand meat exports to China are already substantial and were over $130m last year – more than double what New Zealand exported there two years ago. This increase has occurred despite Chinese import regulations restricting New Zealand meat exporters to supplying meat for re-processing, for re-export, or sale to the hotel/restaurant/institution trade.”

Mr Sutton said the signing the protocols highlighted the trust and faith the Chinese placed in our food safety systems.

“These protocols are a major breakthrough for New Zealand.

“The protocols indicate China’s confidence in New Zealand as a supplier of safe food to its citizens. It also reinforces New Zealand’s position in the world as a trusted supplier of food. It is a reputation that Government officials have worked hard at achieving. It is very pleasing to now reap the rewards of their hard work.”

Mr Sutton said the successful negotiation and signing of the meat protocols demonstrated the contribution made by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, and the international recognition of the quality of its standards and assurances.

“We in New Zealand have rigorous rules and regulations to ensure the production of high quality, safe food. It is good to see these systems recognised internationally, and it is another reminder of the importance of maintaining the integrity of our systems.”

Chinese quarantine officials will now visit New Zealand to inspect a sample of meat exporting plants with a view to registering all New Zealand plants wishing to export meat to China.

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