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Advanced Foods packhouse expansion opening - Spch

Hon Jim Sutton
Speech Notes
10 October 2001

Advanced Foods packhouse expansion opening, Gisborne

Ladies and Gentlemen: thank you for the invitation to be here today.

This is a wonderful occasion. The opening of this new Advanced Foods high care lamb processing plant affects the whole country. It is not only new jobs and new opportunities for the people of Gisborne, but it is also an expansion of New Zealand's added value products for export.

I'm told that 47 people are employed by the new plant today, and that number will increase by Christmas to allow the boning of 1500 carcases a day.

Being right next to the Progressive slaughter plant provides an enormous advantage as it allows the production of high care chilled products that can be sea-freighted to Northern Hemisphere markets.

Being so close to the killing facility means there is also a shorter time between slaughter and processing, and also reduced handling of carcases. Both of these are factors in achieving a safer, longer chilled life for products.

All of this is good news.

Earlier this year, the Labour-Alliance Government co-hosted the Knowledge Wave Economy conference.

We believe that your sector ? agriculture ? is the leading sector when you're looking for examples of the knowledge economy. If you need examples of companies and people developing technologies, applying skills, adding value to traditional products ? well, just look around.

People working in agriculture, horticulture, and forestry in New Zealand have been the people quickest to take up new technology, the fastest to adapt developments to their needs, and the swiftest to innovate to develop things that no-one else has come up with.

As a smart active Government, this Government is working in partnership with industries to faciliatate growth and improvement.

For the meat industry, that is primarily in the trade negotiations area. As Trade Minister, I and my officials have worked hard to take our case against United States lamb tariffs to the World Trade Organisation ? with considerable success. New Zealand's arguments were overwhelmingly upheld by the WTO disputes panel to the satisfaction of ourselves and the Australians, who joined us on that case.

I saw at least one editorial that claimed New Zealand had ridden to success in the lamb case "on the coattails of Australia". That comment was an ignorant put-down of New Zealand ? the sort of thing we hear too often from political opponents. In fact, it was MFATand MAF's legal argumentation which was the key factor. I mention this only because I don't believe our diplomats receive the public recognition they deserve.

The offending tariffs will be lifted from midnight on November 14, which means that product on the water now will arrive in the United States to better market access.

In about a month's time, I will join trade ministers from other World Trade Organisation member countries at Doha in Qatar, where I am hopeful that a new round of multilateral trade negotions will be launched.

Agriculture will be a key part of those negotiations. New Zealand and other agricultural exporting nations will be pushing hard for tariff reductions and the elimination of export subsidies ? measures that should see our markets internationally increase.

If we can achieve better market access, it will be good news for you here in Gisborne.

More sales of your product, more income for your company, more jobs here for the people producing the product, and more income for Gisborne as workers spend money locally.

That's what trade liberalisation is all about. Giving us the opportunity to concentrate on doing the things we do best, and higher incomes so we can afford the best of those things other countries can do better than we can.

In an ideal world, that would mean a lot more Europeans eating a lot more of the products you make here in this new facility. Now that's something to look forward to! For them as well as us.

Ladies and Gentlemen: congratulations on this new facility. I hope it works well for you all and your company, and I wish you every success.

It gives me great pleasure to formally open this new high care lamb processing plant..

Thank you.

ENDS

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