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NZ govt to bolster exporters hit by Fonterra scare

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-09-11 15:18

WELLINGTON - The New Zealand government on Wednesday announced it was organizing a high-level campaign to help New Zealand exporters who were adversely affected by the Fonterra botulism scare last month, particularly in the China market.

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy said they planned to reassert New Zealand's reputation in key markets following the reported potential contamination of Fonterra-produced whey protein concentrate.

"We need to restore full market access to those markets where restrictions have been put in place, re-establish confidence in the robustness of our food safety system, and reaffirm the positive image of New Zealand brands," Groser said in a statement.

A key component of the recovery plan would be an intense program of targeted visits to key markets by government ministers and senior officials once essential technical issues were resolved.

A dedicated fund of up to NZ$2 million ($1.6 million) would be established to support companies to contact customers and shore up business relationships impacted by the whey protein concentrate issue.

"This fund is intended to help the smaller companies re-establish their position in China," said Groser.

"Face-to-face contact will be crucial to both government and businesses. We can't allow this incident to halt the growth of our food export industry, particularly our innovative small and medium- size companies," Guy said in the statement.

The government had earlier announced plans to place more officials in overseas markets, particularly China.

The program would also include a visit to China during September by the acting director general of MPI, to roll back restrictive measures and to restore normal trading conditions.

Officials would also use regular dialogues, such as those established under the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement, to explain how New Zealand's regulatory system works and utilize, and possibly build on, cooperation agreements in place with key markets, including China.

A program of visits to New Zealand by ministers, senior regulators and media from key overseas markets would focus on improving knowledge of, and confidence in, New Zealand's food regulatory systems.

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