Cablegate: New Zealand Response to Request On Negotiations

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 245175

1. (SBU) Post provided reftel points to Emma Kerslake,
Environment Division, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and Trade (MFAT.) MFAT noted that they would respond
following consultations with the Ministry of Agriculture and
Forestry (MAF.) AgAttache spoke separately with MAF
Biosecurity officers Peter Johnston and Ken Glassey, who
pointed out that the MBTOC has recommended a reduction in New
Zealand's 2006 Critical Use Exemption (CUE) request. New
Zealand is not likely to press at the meeting for its higher
requested volume for Methyl Bromide (MB) usage.

Methyl Bromide in New Zealand

2. (U) MAF officials emphasized that the Montreal Protocol's
restrictions on the utilization of MB impact only on
unofficial uses and do not apply to official control or
quarantine usage. In New Zealand approximately 70 percent of
all MB application is for quarantine control, with most
applied to forestry exports and produce. Only about 30
percent of usage is "unofficial," and would be governed by
the Montreal Protocol's restrictions.

3. (SBU) The most important use of unofficial MB is on
strawberry fields. In studying the issue, MAF found that
some applications, particularly to virgin fields not
previously producing strawberries, was unnecessary - it was
being applied as a weed control system versus a pathogen
control system. Reduction of this unnecessary application
should allow the GoNZ to meet the lower 2006 usage level
being recommended by MBTOC. However, should those harvested
strawberries be treated with MB as a quarantine measure prior
to export, this application would be official, and fall
outside the purview of the Montreal Protocol.

Concern over "Official Use" Impact

4. (SBU) Comment: Largely due to the GoNZ's ability to live
with its lowered target, the U.S. should not count on strong
support from New Zealand. On a related front, an Auckland
study released November 2 found that 4,872 residential
properties may be located on premises previously used for
horticulture, and the soil may still contain contaminants.
While contamination concerns are varied, they include
chemical applications for both pests and weeds, including
methyl bromide. The findings have resulted in increased
pressure on the GoNZ to test all the named sites and develop
a national process for identifying and testing potentially
contaminated sites. Given this controversy, it seems even
less likely that New Zealand will take a high-profile stand
on MB limits at the meeting.

5. (SBU) The GoNZ's posture at the Prague meeting November
22-26 will likely be one of monitoring approaches taken by
other countries rather than a pro-active stance on the issue.
However, the GoNZ may be sympathetic to USG rationale
concerning technical and economic considerations because of
their concern that the Montreal Protocol's restrictions may
at some point be extended to official quarantine usage, which
would particularly effect NZ's exports to the EU. We believe
New Zealand is therefore unlikely to criticize the U.S.
position at the meeting, even if it is equally likely not to
publicly support us. End Comment.

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