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Minister to The Hague, Paris, Brussels, and Berlin

Minister to The Hague, Paris, Brussels, and Berlin

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton is to visit the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Germany.

Mr Sutton leaves New Zealand on Tuesday on a trip to discuss agriculture and trade issues with his European counterparts.

His first stop is The Hague, where he is to meet Agriculture Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst and Economic Minister Annemarie Jorritsma. The Dutch are important allies for New Zealand in Europe

Mr Sutton will make his first visit to Brussels and the European Commission. There he will meet Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler. There is a range of bilateral issues between New Zealand and Europe, including biosecurity and veterinary issues, dairy, sheepmeat and wine access, as well as multilateral matters.

Mr Sutton will also meet Belgian agriculture minister Jack Gabriels.

>From Brussels, he goes to Paris to attend an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ministerial council meeting. This meeting is bringing together trade ministers from developed countries to discuss progress towards a new round of multilateral trade negotiations in the World Trade Organisation.

As well, Mr Sutton will meet French Trade Minister Francois Huwart and French Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany.

Mr Glavany has arranged visits to French farms so that Mr Sutton can gain first-hand experience of the French farming sector and get an understanding of the multifunctionality argument which the French say justifies the subsidies paid to farmers.

>From there, Mr Sutton will visit Germany, New Zealand's second-most important market in Europe after Britain.

Mr Sutton will visit farms in the Bonn/Cologne area and travel to Berlin, where he will meet German consumer protection, food safety, and agriculture minister Renate Kunast, secretary of state for agriculture Martin Wille and German farmers' union president Gerhard Sonnleitner.

All three were helpful in dealing with the inaccurate German reports about New Zealand's scrapie-free disease status.

Mr Sutton returns to New Zealand on May 20.


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