Finance Minister Bill English says the value of exports currently blocked from import to other countries because of contaminated whey protein totals tens of millions of dollars, but he is relatively confident it will not impact on New Zealand's GDP in the short term.
"We don't see any reason to believe it will have an impact on GDP at the moment. But how it is handled in the long run will make a difference. New Zealand's reputation is important to our GDP and we must recover that as quickly as possible.''
He said the value of products affected was fairly small because it was the low point of the season. Most dairy products were exported later in the year. ' Parliamentarians gave statements on the issue in Parliament this afternoon, led by Prime Minister John Key.
Mr Key said the safety of consumers was paramount in the immediate response, and the Government would do everything it could to restore New Zealand's international reputation in the months ahead, as well as asking further questions of Fonterra about its handling of the issue.
Labour leader David Shearer said that the primary concern had to be in protecting the health of consumers, and the reputation of New Zealand but questions would have to be asked about it later.
Green co-leader Russel Norman said it had to be asked if the lessons from the DCD scare had been learned. "this is not just a Fonterra problem, or an MPI problem. It's a problem for all of us.''
He said there was a time for nanny state, and that was in protecting food fed to children.
NZ First leader Winston Peters said the gravity of the situation meant it was not a time for political point-scoring. He said New Zealand's prosperity depended on the safety of its food and the scare was a reminder of how vulnerable the economy was. He called for a thorough investigation into how the whey was contaminated. He said New Zealand also had to reflect on the danger of placing excessive reliance on a small number of sectors.