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Cablegate: New Zealand Willing to Start an Import Safety

VZCZCXRO3878
PP RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHGH RUEHKN RUEHMJ RUEHNZ RUEHPB
DE RUEHWL #0645/01 2420508
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 300508Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4643
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 1700
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0355
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 4937
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI PRIORITY 0023
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 0053
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA PRIORITY 0068
RUEHKN/AMEMBASSY KOLONIA PRIORITY 0013
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR PRIORITY 0186
RUEHMJ/AMEMBASSY MAJURO PRIORITY 0115
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA PRIORITY 0544
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0293
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY PRIORITY 0672
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0646
RUEHNZ/AMCONSUL AUCKLAND PRIORITY 1455
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU PRIORITY 0003
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 0004
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU PRIORITY 0028
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG PRIORITY 0130
RUEHBN/AMCONSUL MELBOURNE PRIORITY 0112
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI PRIORITY 0007
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG PRIORITY 0009
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY PRIORITY 0569
RHMFIUU/201AS ANDREWS AFB MD PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY 0174
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 WELLINGTON 000645

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

EAP/ANP, EB/TPP/ABT (FOR PAUL SAXTON), STATE PASS TO USTR,
USDA FOR FAS/OCRA FAS/OSTA, FAS/ONA FAS/OFSO/DEVER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON ETRD TBIO
SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND WILLING TO START AN IMPORT SAFETY
DIALOGUE

REF: SECSTATE 114788

1. SUMMARY: ECONOMIC AND AGRICULTURAL ATTACHES CONVEYED
POINTS IN REF CABLE TO THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND
TRADE AND THE NEW ZEALAND FOOD SAFETY AUTHORITY (NZFSA). THE
NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT WELCOMES THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAINTAIN A
DIALOGUE ON FOOD AND PRODUCT SAFETY WITH THE UNITED STATES
AND TO WORK COLLABORATIVELY TO FIND BETTER WAYS OF ENSURING
SAFETY. END SUMMARY

2. NZFSA IS MOVING RAPIDLY TO IMPLEMENT THE OUTCOMES OF THE
IMPORTED FOOD REVIEW, WHICH WAS COMPLETED IN 2004 AND DONE IN
CONCERT WITH THE DOMESTIC FOOD REVIEW. THE IMPORTED FOOD
REVIEW COVERED ALL IMPORTED FOODS AND BEVERAGES, AGRICULTURAL
COMPOUNDS INCLUDING FERTILIZERS AND ANIMAL FEEDS, VETERINARY
MEDICINES AND PET FOODS.

3. THE NEW SYSTEM PLACES A GREATER OBLIGATION ON IMPORTERS
TO ENSURE FOOD SAFETY. IT ALSO REVIEWS EXPORTING COUNTRY
SYSTEMS AND ASSURANCES TO ENSURE THEY MEET OR ARE EQUIVALENT
TO NEW ZEALAND'S STANDARDS FOR DOMESTIC FOOD. THE SYSTEM IS
UNDERPINNED BY HEIGHTENED MONITORING AND SURVEILLANCE AND
IMPROVED RESPONSIVENESS TO EMERGING ISSUES.

4. THE NEW SYSTEM WILL BE IMPLEMENTED IN STAGES OVER THE
NEXT FIVE YEARS. IT WILL REQUIRE INCREASED COLLABORATION
AMONG AGENCIES AND, IN SOME CASES, LEGISLATIVE CHANGES. THE
NEW SYSTEM EFFECTIVELY FORMALIZES THE ROLE OF THE COMPETENT
AUTHORITY AND PLACES MORE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MANAGING FOOD
SAFETY AND SUITABILITY OFF-SHORE TO THE COUNTRIES THAT
PRODUCE AND EXPORT FOOD TO NEW ZEALAND THUS MAKING THE
EXPORTING COUNTRIES THE SO-CALLED "RISK MANAGER" FOR NEW
ZEALAND.

5. WHENEVER THERE IS A FOOD SAFETY CONCERN OVER A PARTICULAR
PRODUCT, NEW ZEALAND STEPS UP TESTING. FOR INSTANCE, NZFSA
IS TESTING CHINESE IMPORTS ON AN ON-GOING BASIS FOR MELAMIN
AND CYANURAC ACID, WHICH CAUSED THE PROBLEM WITH PET FOOD IN
THE UNITED STATES. NZFSA ALSO TESTED CHINESE IMPORTED FARMED
FISH FOR ANTIMICROBIAL PRODUCTS AND REPORTEDLY FOUND LEVELS
SIMILAR TO THOSE FOUND BY THE UNITED STATES AND AUSTRALIA.

6. NEW ZEALAND IS AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE QUAD (NEW ZEALAND,
AUSTRALIA, UNITED STATES AND CANADA) GROUP. IT HOSTED THE
QUAD MEETING ON FOOD SAFETY IN MARCH OF THIS YEAR. THE QUAD
GROUP IS AN IMPORTANT VEHICLE FOR SHARING INFORMATION ON FOOD
SAFETY AND COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE U.S., WITH NEW ZEALAND,
AUSTRALIA AND CANADA ON BEST PRACTICES.

7. OVERALL CONSUMER SAFETY (NOT SPECIFICALLY AGRICULTURAL OR
MEDICINE/HEALTH PRODUCT RELATED) IN NEW ZEALAND IS THE
PURVIEW OF THE MINISTRY OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS (MCA) WHICH IS A
SUBDIVISION OF THE MINISTRY OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. THE MCA
CAN INVESTIGATE UNSAFE PRODUCTS, SUGGEST MODIFICATIONS TO
MAKE A PRODUCT SAFE, REQUEST THE UNSAFE PRODUCT BE REMOVED
FROM SALE, GIVE ADVICE TO COMPANIES RECALLING UNSAFE
PRODUCTS, AND HELP DEVELOP SELF-REGULATION OPTIONS. IF
CIRCUMSTANCE WARRANTS, THE MCA WILL RECALL UNSAFE PRODUCTS,
BAN AN UNSAFE PRODUCT AND ESTABLISH MANDATORY STANDARDS.

8. NEW ZEALAND MEDIA HAVE RECENTLY BEEN RUNNING SEVERAL
FEATURE STORIES REGARDING THE UPTICK IN CASES IN THE UNITED

WELLINGTON 00000645 002 OF 002


STATES AND NEW ZEALAND OF RECENT UNSAFE IMPORTS FROM CHINA.
THIS COVERAGE PROMPTED LOCAL INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS TO AIR
A CONSUMER WATCHDOG PROGRAM WHICH FOUND DANGEROUS LEVELS OF
FORMALDEHYDE IN WOOLEN AND COTTON CLOTHES IMPORTED FROM
CHINA. AS MENTIONED IN THIS CABLE, THERE HAVE BEEN CALLS FOR
PARLIAMENT TO STRENGTHEN THE LABELING REQUIREMENTS OF
IMPORTED PRODUCTS. THE U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCTS SAFETY
COMMISSION ROUTINELY SHARES ITS "HAZARDOUS PRODUCTS ALERTS"
WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF NEW ZEALAND WHICH THEN NOTIFIES NEW
ZEALAND CUSTOMS AND THE MCA TO BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR UNSAFE
CONSUMER PRODUCTS.
MCCORMICK

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