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Sutton Meets German Green Minister In Berlin

A change is sweeping European agriculture, Agriculture and Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton, who returned to New Zealand on Sunday from a two-week trip to Europe, said New Zealand must do what it can to ensure that this change reduced the distortions in international markets.

While in Europe, he met German Minister for Consumer Protection, Food Safety, and Agriculture Renate Kuenast.

"Ms Kuenast, from the German Green Party, is a passionate advocate of a new direction for German agriculture. I was pleased to hear about her priorities and I explained to her New Zealand's reliance on agricultural trade and the critical need for open international markets. Our discussion was friendly and interesting.

" As I did in France, I told Frau Kuenast and German farmers that we should be able to reconcile European and New Zealand objectives in the WTO agriculture negotiations. We can accept the need to protect the rural way of life in Europe but the undermining of markets by the use of export subsidies must stop", he said.

Mr Sutton and Ms Kuenast also discussed the new German emphasis on organic farming and shared interests in sustainable agriculture, as well as agricultural trade issues.

"I have invited Ms Kuenast to visit New Zealand when she is able and I look forward to her doing so. Beyond agriculture, she shares other interests with New Zealanders including the protection and preservation of whales."

Germany is New Zealand's second largest market in Europe.

Mr Sutton also visited a German dairy farm at the invitation of the German Government and the German Farmers Federation, hosted by Gerd Sonnleitner, President of the Farmers Federation, who visited New Zealand earlier this year.

Office of Hon Jim Sutton

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