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Luxton Welcomes CER Progress On Biosecurity Issues

Biosecurity Minister John Luxton today welcomed the commitment between New Zealand and Australia to advance trans-Tasman co-operation on biosecurity matters. The accord comes as a result of a joint Ministerial agreement with Mr Luxton's Australian counterpart, the Hon Warren Truss, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

"New Zealand and Australian officials are working closely together to look at the national biosecurity policies of both countries and examine the biosecurity restrictions which may hinder trade. The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) and MAF have agreed to put on a more formal footing separate technical groups looking at animal and plant health and border operations."

"Preserving our excellent biosecurity status remains paramount for both countries and each party still retains the right to determine their own appropriate import requirements, while still maintaining consistency with the rights and obligations under the WTO."

The key areas where both countries have agreed to strengthen their ties on biosecurity issues are:

* To review the consistency of the Australian and New Zealand approaches to pest and disease risk assessment;

* To ensure that current biosecurity requirements are based on sound science;

* Review current areas of concern;

* Review the mechanisms of information exchange between the two countries.

"The on-going dialogue recognises not only the maturity of the relationship but also reinforces our CER commitments. It is common sense to work together where we can on biosecurity issues. I welcome any initiatives that strengthen ties with our closest trading partner," Mr Luxton concluded.


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