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New Zealand farmers seek solid trade relations with China after meat export delays


15:50, May 22, 2013

WELLINGTON, May 22 (Xinhua) -- The head of New Zealand's farm industry body said Wednesday that farmers are hoping to get the trade relationship with China running smoothly again after meat exports were held up on Chinese wharves because of confusion caused by a name change on New Zealand export documents.

Federated Farmers president and trade spokesperson Bruce Wills told Xinhua that he had been in contact with New Zealand Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, who had said that chilled meat was now entering the Chinese market and frozen produce should start moving in the next couple of days.

The delay began because certificates for exporting meat to China were changed after the former Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which had previously issued them, was merged with two other agencies to become the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in March.

"I'm advised that all the correct documentation is now in the hands of the Chinese authorities," Wills said in a phone interview.

New Zealand farmers viewed trade with China as "crucial," especially after China became New Zealand's biggest export market in the first quarter of this year.

"I hope this is just a technical bump in the chain," said Wills. "Obviously these hiccups unsettle our farming producers so let's hope it's a one-time occurrence."

The delays would cause some costs, which would ultimately be borne by the producers -- the farmers -- but these would be minimal if the issue was resolved in the next few days.

Asked if farmers were angry with the New Zealand government over the failure to properly inform Chinese authorities of the name change, Wills said he was picking up "some frustration" that the delays had been allowed to reach the point that they had.

"It's not something that farmers like to see and we would hope that we won't look to repeat it," he said.

Wills hoped the problem would not disrupt trade links developed under the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement signed in 2008, which had benefited both countries.

"It certainly unsettles both parties and that's not good when we're trying to build a solid and reliable relationship," he said.

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