Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Chinese meat blockade lifted

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

China's freeze on New Zealand meat imports is over says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

"A resolution has been agreed which should see authorities clearing New Zealand meat exports to China from next week" Mr Guy said in a statement.

"Chinese authorities have agreed they will begin releasing consignments under the name of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority."

Officials were working around the clock to reissue certificates for all the meat consignments held up at ports or on the water.

"This is positive news for farmers and exporters after what has been a frustrating time."
Mr Guy said the Ministry for Primary Industries had now released information on how and why this delay occurred.

"It provided certification in a format which AQSIQ had not yet approved, and in doing so caused confusion for Chinese inspectors."

"I am very disappointed in the Ministry for Primary Industries for its mistakes in certification which have caused this delay.

"Accurately certifying exports of New Zealand agricultural goods is a core function for the Ministry and this mistake should never have occurred. Officials have a responsibility to meat exporters and to all New Zealanders to get the basic details right."

Mr Guy said he was grateful to Chinese authorities for their willingness to work constructively with New Zealand officials to find a way through the error.

"I am also grateful to the New Zealand meat industry for their patience."

He said ministry officials had let themselves down in two further ways: "by not informing Ministers of the scale and seriousness of this issue early enough, and in being too slow to provide information on exactly why this problem occurred".

"The Director-General of MPI first informed Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye and I of this issue on Tuesday 14 May. However, the size of this issue was not made clear until I began receiving calls from the meat industry on Friday 17 May.

"I'm disappointed it has taken so long to get to the bottom of this problem and for the Ministry to come up with a proper explanation. This has been frustrating for myself, the public and meat exporters."

- NZ Herald

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