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Anderton urges New Zealand/Australian cooperation

24th November 2006

Anderton urges New Zealand/Australian cooperation

In his opening speech at the New Zealand/Australian Primary Industries Ministerial Council meeting in Christchurch today, Minister of Agriculture Jim Anderton said both countries needed to maximise opportunities, "We have a lot to gain from working together constructively and positively."

Mr Anderton noted that the primary industries are vital to the economic well-being of both countries. In New Zealand, agriculture accounts for over half exports; in Australia the industry is worth some A$40 billion a year.

The Minister reflected that primary production was gaining in value from on-going investment in science, research and development, and in innovation. "The other high-value knowledge-based factor is skills. People who work on the land need to be more skilled and better trained than ever. So we need the rural lifestyle to be part of the package that attracts talented young people to the land and the business opportunities existing there."

"Productivity in our primary sectors is growing faster than the average of the rest of the economy. " said Mr Anderton. "It's vital we continue to work together to develop new market opportunities. We need to persuade our trading partners of the benefits to their consumers of better access to our products. We need to be aware of challenging new developments in global trade as well."

Mr Anderton raised the current issue of the proposal for a tax on food miles in Europe, noting that this is a potential threat to New Zealand and Australia's primary exports. "Who else is that aimed at? We have a long history of working together on these issues. The challenges are not going away and we need to keep the pressure on, with ever better performance in our own sectors," said Mr Anderton.

ENDS

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