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PM'sAddress at opening of GS1 conference

PM'sAddress at opening of GS1 conference

“Connecting the Dots – Managing the Future of Global Supply Chains"

Langham Hotel

8.40 am

Thursday 27 July, 2006

Thank you for inviting me to open today's conference and welcome to New Zealand guests and speakers from overseas.

Global supply chains are of paramount importance to an exporting country like New Zealand because getting our goods and services overseas is the lifeblood of our economy. My comments this morning will focus on supply chain security with particular reference to the ability of our exports to cross borders and comply with increasingly rigorous international quality standards.

The Labour-led Government believes a strong export sector is fundamental to our nation's economic well-being and we have designated next year as “Export Year 2007”. Ministers are working with MFAT and NZTE on a series of initiatives to promote the year.

Export Year 2007 is aimed at improving New Zealand’s long-term export performance by growing more firms which are competitive in international markets.

This is part of our agenda to continue to transform New Zealand into an export-led, innovative, high-wage economy.

Industry owns the supply chain and is responsible for its integrity and its efficiency, but the government has a big interest in providing a safe and secure platform for trade, balancing facilitation of trade with border security.

From a “Brand New Zealand” point of view, and for relationships with trading partners, it is important to be sure that what is declared to be in a shipment to or from New Zealand is, in fact, what is in that shipment.

Our ability to trade profitably hinges on keeping current access arrangements with our trading partners and improving on them.

This means working to eliminate barriers which stand in the way of New Zealand exports, including subsidies and tariffs, as well as operational barriers, and backing good quality assurance arrangements.

I would like to say a few words first about market access overall for New Zealand exports.

As a government, we work hard to promote market access, through bilateral free trade agreements such as the one under negotiation with China and through the multilateral process, in particular at the World Trade Organisation.

It is deeply regrettable that the negotiations under the Doha Round have been suspended. Our government will be working through all the diplomatic channels available for the lifting of the suspension so that negotiations can resume.

In the post-September 11 environment, new border security arrangements posed potential barriers to trade. We have had to work hard to get the right balance between secure borders and the ability of trade and commerce to flow as freely as possible.

That’s why the New Zealand Customs Service, in consultation with business, has developed and implemented a supply chain security strategy, to give greater security assurance over exports, imports, and transshipped goods.

Under the Secure Exports Partnership Scheme, a voluntary agreement ensures that goods exported under the scheme are packed securely and with no other goods.

To comply with the Scheme, our businesses are required to have adequate security measures in place so that their export goods cannot be tampered with or used to smuggle contraband.

The consignment of goods can then be sealed with a Customs approved seal – which can be considered secure by overseas administrations. The use of RFID seals for electronic customs seals helps give that assurance.

Border authorities of our trading partners will facilitate New Zealand's exports if they trust New Zealand's border management assurances, and exporters and travel operators can demonstrate their commitment to supply chain security. We have been able to reach an agreement with the United States Customs based on our mutual trust and confidence in our respective systems.

Technology will play an increasing role in this. That is why the focus of this conference on technology is so important.

It is not only the quality of the technology which is important - ensuring that New Zealand's product identification system is consistent with those in other countries will help facilitate trade.

The World Customs Organisation, of which the New Zealand Customs Service is a member, has recently agreed a Framework of Standards designed to secure and facilitate global trade.

One of these standards is that Customs administrations should require advance electronic information on cargo and container shipments in time for adequate risk assessment to take place.

RFID technology is also playing a growing role in our meat industry, where whole of life traceability from the animal on the farm to the consumer product on the shelf is increasingly important in quality assurance and food safety.

I have no doubt that adopting RFID technology in our food export industries will be very important in future in meeting increased compliance requirements and guaranteeing quality and safe products to consumers.

In government we will support technological advances which will help New Zealand to trade and to meet our international and domestic security and safety obligations.

Government is keen to work alongside industry to help create an environment in which industry can adopt and benefit from new technologies.

In this respect, Standards New Zealand has been working with industry to develop the RFID Consumer Protection Code of Conduct, so that use of this technology complies with consumer protection and privacy laws.

The Government recognises the importance of technology, particularly at the government/industry interfaces which occur in assuring our border security, our biosecurity, and our food safety.

It is now my pleasure to declare this conference “Connecting the Dots: Managing the Future of Global Supply Chains” open.


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