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NZ, Argentina face similar farming challenges

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

Progressive Leader

21 July 2006 Media Statement

NZ and Argentina face similar challenges with farming economy

Minister of Agriculture, Jim Anderton, delivered a speech at the Rural Exposition in Buenos Aires today, outlining the issues facing New Zealand agriculture. He said that while there are some considerable differences in the economies of New Zealand and Argentina, both countries were large agricultural exporting nations in the southern hemisphere, facing challenges of changing consumer expectations, higher standards and increasing awareness of global environmental issues.

"The New Zealand government is focussed on innovation, international connections, sustainability and trade. Instead of trying to compete on price alone, New Zealand is trying to compete more and more by meeting demand for premium produce. Our vision for higher value agricultural exports relies on innovation," Jim Anderton said.

""Our agri-tech companies have had to innovate continually and have developed world-beating products and services. Genetics and optimum feed have been key focus areas for innovation because livestock farming dominates our agriculture. The agricultural sector is the biggest provider of research and development investment in the private sector and the government funds agricultural research worth more than NZ$100 million (US$66 million) a year.

"The way we care for our environment is a crucial business issue for our primary sectors, as well as an environmental issue. Agriculture is, after all, weather and climate dependent. However, the increasing consumer anxiety over food safety and environmental-friendly productions raises significant challenges. Fortunately, when it comes to the quality of our environmental and social protections, New Zealand agriculture has a story to tell as good as anywhere in the world.

"The government is looking closely at the ways we can deepen international connections and increase the global competitiveness of New Zealand firms. We need to ensure the global market remains open to our products. New Zealand, like Argentina, has placed a great deal of emphasis on negotiating better access for its goods and for fairer trade. Reducing farm subsidies and improving global market access for agricultural goods is a top priority for the Doha Round of trade talks.

"New Zealand is a major participant in these talks, chairing international committees, serving on expert panels and providing high-level technical input. It is very disappointing that key players are still not ready to make the necessary concessions needed to open access for agricultural products from countries like New Zealand and Argentina.

"The impact of failure on the world's very poorest countries is indefensible. The talks are not over yet but these are extremely difficult times for them. It is hard to see the process moving forward without some dramatic movement from the key players in the coming days and weeks. New Zealand will continue to play a constructive role in helping to find a solution. We should not underestimate what a successful outcome means for New Zealand and Argentina.

"I am sure we both have a lot to learn from each other. New Zealand looks forward to working in partnership with Argentina to construct a positive global marketplace within which our economies can grow," Jim Anderton said in concluding his speech at the Rural Exposition at the end of his brief visit to Chile and Argentina.


ENDS

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