24 May 2013

Meat industry seeks clarification over China impasse

6:27 am on 24 May 2013

The Meat Industry Association says it's cautiously optimistic that meat held on the wharves in China will start to be cleared from early next week, once Chinese authorities have received replacement certificates.

Export certificates for companies to send meat to China were changed on 1 March this year to recognise that the former Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is now known as the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). It also includes the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and the Ministry of Fisheries.

Over the past couple of weeks, Chinese customs officials have refused to clear deliveries of New Zealand meat because of confusion over the name change on documentation.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said on Thursday that Chinese authorities have agreed to release consignments under the name of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and they will begin to be processed next week.

But Meat Industry Association trade and economic manager Dan Coup says it's still not sure what the agreement covers and will be seeking further clarification.

He says it seems that product which has been detained on the wharf will now be able to be released.

"What I guess we're not clear about and will need to resolve is whether the same solution is going to apply to product that is en route and whether it applies to product that's not yet been sent - so can we start exporting again."