16 Jun 2013

Ministers to lead review of Chinese export needs

10:07 pm on 16 June 2013

Four cabinet ministers are to lead a top-level review of the quality of food exports to China and the process of getting them there.

Exports were worth $6.7 billion last year and Trade Minister Tim Groser says a number of issues have arisen, revealing a fragmented approach to Chinese requirements.

Tim Groser.

Tim Groser. Photo: NATIONAL PARTY

Mr Groser cites the example of meat exports stranded on wharves in China, which revealed documentation errors.

Other issues include DCD residues in some dairy products, recent court action in China over the double invoicing of kiwifruit exports, and the burgeoning trade in baby formula brought into China from Hong Kong.

Mr Groser says the review team will work on a cohesive approach to the processes and quality issues related to trade with China, to minimise mistakes.

"What we're trying to do is to bring all this together and have a whole of government view based on very careful analysis, there's been too much fragmentation in the system, we need a more joint approach."

As well as Mr Groser, the review team includes Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

Export trade with China still in 'great shape'

Tim Groser says New Zealand's export trade with China is in great shape, despite recent mistakes.

Exports to China have tripled in five years and the country has overtaken Australia as New Zealand's biggest trading partner.

Mr Groser acknowledged on TVNZ's Q+A programme that mistakes have been made.

But he says Chinese leaders told Prime Minister John Key during a recent state visit that the relationship with New Zealand stands as the model for China's other trade ties.

Mr Groser says New Zealand has to get details right, and avoid mistakes such as the slip-up with documentation that led to meat exports being delayed.

"The more you trade, the more likely it is that things will go wrong in terms of the detail but it doesn't cut across the general point about the overall relationship, it just means that we need to invest more in what I call the infrastructure of this relationship."

Mr Groser dismissed any suggestion that the hold-up with meat exports was related to concerns over DCD residues in dairy products but said ministers are checking all issues across the food export supply chain.