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New Special Agricultural Trade Envoy Appointed

8 July 2002

Former Dairy Board chairman Graham Fraser will be New Zealand's next special agricultural trade envoy, Trade Negotiations and Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton told farmers at meetings in the Rangitikei electorate today that Mr Fraser would succeed former Federated Farmers president Malcolm Bailey as envoy, to continue New Zealand's global lobbying campaign for liberalisation in agricultural trade.

Mr Sutton said Mr Bailey, who had been the envoy for the past two years, had done a good job.

"Graham Fraser's appointment as our new agriculture envoy will build on the excellent work of the previous envoy, Malcom Bailey."

Mr Sutton said an indicator of the value of the work done by Mr Bailey, and his predecessor Brian Chamberlin, was that at the World Trade Organisation Meeting in Doha, Qatar, last year, it was clear that the only opposition in the European Union to a reduction of agricultural export subsidies was from Ireland and France.

"This is a huge change from a few years ago, when the whole of Europe was convinced the world would end if such subsidies were reduced."

Mr Fraser's appointment has been made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He will be a special envoy with Ambassadorial status. His role will be to promote and defend New Zealand's agricultural trading interests in key export markets including the European Union, the United States and Asia.

Mr Fraser will undertake a major programme of meetings with farmers and farm groups, attending conferences and speaking to the media at home and overseas.

Mr Sutton said Mr Fraser's appointment came at a critical time for New Zealand's agriculture sector.

"We are at the outset of a new round of multilateral negotiations in the World Trade Organisation, which will cover not only agricultural trade, but also issues that have the potential to impact on the competitiveness and sustainability of our agricultural exports, such as environment and dispute settlement rules.

"The appointment also comes at a time of enormous domestic agricultural policy change among key trading partners such as the EU and US.

"Mr Fraser's work to influence agricultural lobbies, taxpayers and consumers abroad will be critical to achieving New Zealand's objectives of fighting protectionism and removing distortions in the global trading system.

"We have a long way to go before we have levelled the playing field for our farmers, and for those in developing countries. Mr Fraser will be able to speak from his own experience about the benefits of non-subsidised agriculture and the need for free and fair trade in agricultural products."

Ends

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