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NZ farmers thank China for fixing trade blunder

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-05-23 17:43

WELLINGTON - The head of New Zealand's farming industry body on Thursday thanked Chinese authorities for helping to "untangle a bureaucratic morass" that had resulted in New Zealand meat exports being refused entry into China.

Federated Farmers president and trade spokesperson Bruce Wills said the mistakes by New Zealand's export licensing authority, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), had been "embarrassing" for the country.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy announced earlier Thursday that the meat shipments would begin moving into the Chinese market next week after ministry officials delivered the correct documents to China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

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 MPI in March.

"China is our largest market for lamb by volume and in the first quarter of 2013, surpassed Britain in terms of value for the first time ever. This is what was at stake so it is embarrassing to discover the fault lay here in New Zealand," Wills said in a statement.

"Hiccups like this are not a good look when we live by trade."

New Zealand farmers had been voicing their frustration at the length of the delays.

"China is a market we value, as the trebling of New Zealand's exports there since 2008 demonstrates," said Wills.

"We want to be a good friend to that market and it was the Chinese who thankfully helped to untangle a bureaucratic morass at our end."

Guy said in an earlier statement that he was "very disappointed " in MPI, whose officials had provided documentation in a form that AQSIQ officials had yet to approve.

The MPI officials had also failed to inform ministers of the scale and seriousness of the issue early enough, and had been too slow to provide information on exactly why the problem occurred, he said.

MPI acting director-general Andrew Coleman said in a statement Thursday that MPI officials had apologized to ministers, and would be apologizing to meat exporters and the Chinese authorities about the confusion and frustration this issue had caused.

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