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EU Com. for Agriculture & Rural Development visits

EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development to visit

The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mariann Fischer Boel, is to visit New Zealand from tomorrow until Wednesday (4–8 March), Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton said today.

Effectively the EU's agriculture minister, Mrs Fischer Boel will meet
Prime Minister Helen Clark, Trade Minister Phil Goff, and Mr Anderton.

``The European Union is New Zealand's second biggest economic partner, after Australia, and is particularly important for key agricultural exports such as sheep meat, wool, fruit, cheese and wine,'' Mr Anderton said.

``The EU also plays a key role in negotiating international trade rules, including as they relate to agriculture within the World Trade Organisation.''

Mrs Fischer Boel presides over the reform of Europe's Common
Agriculture Policy and the prospects of further reform will be discussed with ministers.

Mrs Fischer Boel will view first-hand New Zealand's primary production sector at work, in visits to Otago and Waikato. She has expressed interest in looking at innovative and modern ways of addressing productivity, diversity and sustainability, and will tour sheep and dairy farms, and vineyards.

In Wellington she will hold talks with Mr Anderton before being hosted at an official dinner with industry representatives by Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Mrs Fischer Boel arrives in Queenstown on Saturday, and will be hosted over the weekend by Mr Goff. Mrs Fisher Boel has been to New Zealand once before, in 1997.

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