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Kiwifruit to be brought under HEA

Kiwifruit to be brought under HEA

The Horticulture Export Authority Act is to be amended to allow kiwifruit exports to Australia to be brought within the HEA framework, Associate Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said today.

Mr O'Connor said that the Government had responded to requests from the kiwifruit industry to regulate the export of kiwifruit to Australia. Kiwifruit exports to the rest of the world are done by Zespri in a single desk export regime.

"It seems that since the Australian market for kiwifruit was deregulated in 1988, that market has been swamped with low-quality kiwifruit and this has damaged the market. There is also a problem with illegal re-exporting of New Zealand kiwifruit from Australia."

Mr O'Connor said it was estimated that growers were losing about $5 million a year because of problems with the Australian market.

"The kiwifruit industry considers that bringing kiwifruit exports to Australia within the HEA framework will allow marketing to be co-ordinated and quality standards to be applied, leading to increased returns. The Government agrees with this. It is clear this move is supported by the great majority of producers.

"This move will also make it possible to limit or end illegal re-exporting because exporters could be required in their export licenses to comply with an agreed export marketing strategy. Increasing returns from the Australian market will reduce the margin between this and higher value Asian markets, and will therefore reduce the economic incentive for re-exports.

"Opportunities will remain for independent exporters to operate in collaboration with Zespri in ways that do not undermine returns for the industry as a whole."

Mr O'Connor said an amendment to the Horticulture Export Authority Act 1987 would be drafted, and he hoped it would be introduced into the House and referred to the primary production select committee before the end of the year.

"I would like to have this amendment in place as soon as practiable."

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