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Sutton welcomes improved New Zealand fruit

5 April 2005

Sutton welcomes improved New Zealand fruit and vegetable access into Japan

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton has welcomed improved access for New Zealand's fruit and vegetables resulting from Japan's recent decision to expand its list of non-quarantine pests.

"This decision means less New Zealand fruit and vegetables will need fumigation on arrival in Japan. This is a very good outcome, both for our producers and Japanese consumers. It will improve quality and reduce costs.

"It takes effort and commitment to amend quarantine systems, and I applaud the efforts of Japanese officials and the Government in making these moves," Mr Sutton said from Japan today.

"New Zealand's food products are safe, and produced to the highest standards. Our growers and exporters work hard to comply with Japan's quarantine requirements.

"These changes to Japan's quarantine requirements will bring Japan closer to international standards set by bodies such as the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO)." Quarantine issues have been under discussion between New Zealand and Japan for some years, both bilaterally and in the WTO's Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee.

"The pests on the new list are not harmful for consumers, and are also found in Japan, so there's no technically justifiable reason to fumigate for these pests if they are found on produce at the border.

"We look forward to this change in regulation resulting in a significant reduction in fumigations of New Zealand fruits and vegetables, including those grown using organic production systems." Mr Sutton said. "And we look forward to working with Japan to see further pests ? already present in Japan ? added to this list as soon as possible."

Mr Sutton went on to note that he had taken the opportunity of calls on Japan's Minister of Trade and Minister of Agriculture to indicate New Zealand's interest in exploring enhanced trade and economic arrangements with Japan, including a forward-looking study of prospects for further trade growth and liberalisation longer-term.

"We think it is time for New Zealand and Japan to take a fresh look at things," Mr Sutton explained "and to put in place a more structured, forward-looking framework to build on our already strong trade and economic relationship with Japan."

"This is consistent with developments in the wider Asia/Pacific, which have seen both Japan and New Zealand expanding their network of regional partnerships" Mr Sutton remarked.

ENDS

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