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Japan's move towards best practice welcome

6 July 2004

Japan's move towards best practice welcome

New Zealand encourages Japan's administration to implement a proposal that it move towards standard international practice on plant protection, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said Japan had made a significant announcement at a recent WTO sanitary and phytosanitary committee meeting, advising that its plant protection review has recommended Japan move towards international practice.

"New Zealand welcomed this development. We have pressed Japan over a long period to comply with its international phytosanitary obligations. Japan also indicated that it would apply plant quarantine measures proportionate to the risk in a timely and flexible manner.

"Japan's excessive fumigation requirements affect the eating quality and shelf life of our fresh produce exports (over $5 million of direct and indirect costs) and impose opportunity costs on our organic producers ($2million-$3 million)."

However, Mr Sutton said difficult negotiations probably remained ahead.

"There is some suggestion that Japan may actually drop the fumigation requirement on as few as four of the many pests New Zealand has requested be considered on a priority basis."

He said New Zealand would continue to encourage Japan to move to adopt international practice.

"Only when the rules governing the trade in animal and plant products are based on sound science, will international trade rules be fair to producers and consumers alike."

ENDS

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