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Sutton Speech: Plant market access

Plant market access consultation committee re-launch Wellington

Ladies and Gentlemen: I am delighted to be here this afternoon, with most of my portfolio hats on ? especially agriculture, biosecurity, and trade negotiations.

Last week, I was bailed up by a reporter who had been contacted by a flower exporter, complaining that the Government was wasting money by putting out a booklet explaining why trade was important.

Now maybe for that grower, it's completely obvious that trade is of vital importance for New Zealand. Indeed, I hope it's that way for everyone in this room.

But it's not obvious, unfortunately, to many people in New Zealand.

In the year to March this year, agricultural, forestry, and horticultural exports were valued at $20.6 billion, and accounted for 66 per cent of all exports from New Zealand. Almost $2 billion of those were from horticulture alone.

About 80 per cent of all primary products grown are grown solely for export.

Figures from 1998 show that 32,660 people have jobs in horticulture and 24,315 have jobs in forestry. Another 27,290 people have jobs growing grains and other crops. These people are all dependent on us continuing to trade with other countries.

It's important for us as a nation to have buy-in from our citizens for the things the Government facilitates ? whether it's bringing in a new species of plant or animal; exporting products to other countries; or spraying residential areas to eradicate pests and diseases we don't want established here.

This is where the Plants Market Access Council comes in. Your role is as a peak body for the horticultural and arable industries, developing and implementing strategies for market access and export assurances programmes for plants and plant products.

I see your role of enhancing communication, dialogue and understanding among all stakeholders to be a particularly important one.

Your leadership role, not only in working to secure and continually improve market access, but to also transfer information is significant.

As traders, we all know we need market access, but sometimes we can have that access without knowing some of the other things that enable us to use that access effectively.

I commend you on all your work so far, and I wish you the best in the future.

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