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Our reputation is worth protecting

26th September 2006

Our reputation is worth protecting

Minister of Agriculture, Jim Anderton opened the Plants Market Access Council AGM today saying that horticultural exports at $2 billion per annum were an important part of our primary industry exports and were critical to New Zealand's future wellbeing. He said that New Zealand more than any other country was dependent on primary industries for 65 per cent of our export earnings and that our high reputation for the quality of our export certification is fundamental to our plant exports.

"Safe trade in plants is more important to us than it is to most developed countries. Many importing countries recognise our certificate means what it says. As a result we have favourable access conditions for our exports. They are not always as favourable as we would like them to be as countries can be protectionist by nature, looking for a reason not to allow trade in competition with local producers.

"All countries are now requiring new market access requests to go through a pest risk analysis process. They look at large piles of data and it takes a long time. New Zealand is known to have safe trade in plants but we have to be rigorous with our standards as our credibility is based on it and access to markets depends on it.

Biosecurity is a critical ingredient in our production. The clean environment behind the 'Pure New Zealand' brand is a major strategic advantage. It depends on us remaining free from pests and diseases. This shows the value of having a fair, evidence based biosecurity system. Evidence has to rule the day. We can't allow our standards to be lax.

"Every biosecurity incursion threatens not just one industry in New Zealand but our entire economy. We need high standards and they need to be the same for everyone. We must be scrupulous in protecting our export reputation as well. When our reputation is worth over $2 billion a year for horticulture, it's worth protecting.

"The Government will play its role to help unleash the initiative and creativity of the horticultural industry. New markets in China, India, Brazil and Russia offer big opportunities for us and we need to be seeing them as potential markets, not just competitors. Horticulture is a crucial primary industry sector for New Zealand," Jim Anderton said in Wellington today at the PMAC AGM.

ENDS

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