28 May 2013

NZ meat cleared to enter China

4:00 pm on 28 May 2013

New Zealand meat that has been sitting at Chinese ports for weeks has been cleared for entry.

Chinese customs officials had refused to allow deliveries of the meat due to confusion about a name change on documentation.

Nathan Guy.

Nathan Guy. Photo: RNZ

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said 245 new certifications were sent to the Chinese customs service last week and about 1300 were sent on Monday.

Mr Guy said clearance has been given for those consignments on Tuesday and it is now up to importers and agents in China to collect their respective containers.

He said the meat has been kept refrigerated and closely monitored, and is still safe to eat. However, it will take some time to clear the backlog.

Ministry of Primary Industries director-general Wayne McNee would be having a discussion with the meat industry about possible compensation, he said.

Labour's Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O'Connor said the hold-up shows that the new, larger ministry is not working.

Mr O'Connor said Nathan Guy should take full responsbility for the fiasco and not blame his officials.

Labour leader David Shearer said Prime Minister John Key should be asking Mr Guy why he should stay in the job when he can't do the most basic thing, which is getting meat exports freed up.

The Meat Industry Association does not have an exact record of the amount of meat involved, but said the consignments on the wharves or on their way to China would add up to thousands of tonnes.

At present up to 20,000 tonnes of meat a month, mostly sheepmeat, are being sent there.