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Chinese group to look at NZ cooperatives

10 April 2008 Media Statement

Chinese group to look at NZ cooperatives

Cooperatives were some of the most important businesses in New Zealand, Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton said today.

He told a reception at Parliament for the All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Cooperatives Association delegation that cooperative companies in New Zealand go back to some of the earliest days of agricultural exporting.

The first was a cheese cooperative set up in Otago in 1871.

"The principles of that first modern co-operative remain the principles of co-operatives today:
They are owned and democratically controlled by the people who use the cooperative's services.

They return profits to members in proportion to the members' use of the cooperative, not in proportion to an investment or share of ownership. In other words, returns flow to the most active and productive, not to those with the greatest capital contribution.

And cooperatives exist primarily out of a recognition of members' needs for affordable and high quality goods and services."

Jim Anderton said New Zealand had built much of our economy on these principles.

"The co-operative structure is a central part of agricultural excellence in New Zealand.

"We found that industry adapts best when everyone who has a stake is involved in its development.

"Because our structures have been cooperative, they have allowed the innovative and highly productive small (mostly family-owned) farm to remain at the heart of our agricultural enterprise. And yet they have also allowed these small business units to pull together to create a competitive advantage for New Zealand in agricultural skills, knowledge, science, research and development."

Jim Anderton congratulated the delegation on timing their visit to New Zealand at the same time as the signing of the free trade agreement between China and New Zealand.

"Our relationship with China is in the forefront of our minds today, with the signing of the historic trade agreement between our countries."


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