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Natural Health Products Bill Delays Harm Exports

18 May 2017

Natural Health Products Bill Delays Harm Exports

The industry group that represents more than 80% of this country’s natural products companies has expressed surprise and disappointment in New Zealand First's claim that the Natural Health Products Bill is bad for exports, saying that the opposite is true.

The Natural Health Products Bill aims to regulate natural health products that are sold and marketed directly to consumers. It will not apply to products that are prescribed or directly made available through trained health practitioners or traditional medicine practitioners.

The Bill has been more than a decade in the making and is currently stalled, awaiting its third reading.

Natural Products NZ’s Corporate Affairs Director Alison Quesnel has called for properly informed debate about the Natural Health Products Bill saying delays at passing it into law are bad for business and bad for consumers.

She also extended an invitation to Mr Peters to meet with Natural Products NZ and some of its members that export. This will enable him to gain the true picture of the Bill's importance.

“There’s an awful lot of scaremongering and misinformation flying around with regard to the Natural Health Products Bill, thanks to a small and very vocal group of detractors so it is important to sort fact from fiction. Ongoing delays to the Bill's passage are not serving our growing natural products export sector well and nor is it helping local manufacturers who only sell their products here.

"We would welcome the opportunity to meet with Mr Peters and provide the exporters' perspective on the matter.”

A survey in 2014 showed that the natural products industry makes an estimated $1.4 billion per annum contribution to New Zealand’s economy (up from an estimated $1 billion five years ago). Around 85% of respondents export, with exports valued at $285 million per annum.

Strong export growth has been maintained since the survey was undertaken but Ms Quesnel said it could grow even faster if New Zealand a modern regulatory system for natural products.

“Aligning our regulations with those of our major overseas markets will make it easier to sell New Zealand-made products there and could potentially even provide automatic barrier-free access into some countries.

She says countries with modern regulatory systems, such as Australia, are gaining an edge over New Zealand in key high-growth markets such as China and ASEAN countries.

“Product safety and quality are big issues in those markets, which is why the Bill’s focus on safety and quality assurance is so important.”

Ms Quesnel notes that the Natural Health Products Bill proposes to establish a lightweight regulatory agency and much lower bar than the previously mooted ANZTPA (Australia and NZ Therapeutic Products Agency). Proposed manufacturing standards are much more lenient, the process for product approval is more straight forward, and the cost per product to industry (and thus end users), will be much less.

“Even though our system will be less stringent than is the case in Australia, it will still help to boost our exports by providing our overseas markets with greater reassurance about product quality and safety. Importantly, it will maintain New Zealand’s control over setting the regulatory rules for natural health products sold here and overseas under Brand NZ.”

Ms Quesnel says Natural Products NZ (NPNZ) has been working closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure the Bill and its resulting regulations will be fair and workable for consumers, the industry, and natural health and traditional medicine practitioners alike.

Ms Quesnel says it is significant that Natural Products NZ, the industry body that represents the vast majority of the natural products sector, strongly supports the Bill given that it directly affects its members.

“Most of New Zealand’s natural health products manufacturers – from very large companies to small manufacturers – actually support this legislation because we believe it will be good for business, good for consumers, good for the growing local natural health industry, and therefore good for New Zealand’s economy.”

For accurate information about the Bill, visit: http://www.naturalproducts.nz/natural-health-products-bill-faq/

[Note to editor: The information on this website have been seen and approved by the Ministry of Health.]


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