29 May 2013

Priority is moving jammed meat shipments - exporters

8:32 am on 29 May 2013

The Meat Industry Association says the priority for exporters is to get containers of New Zealand sheepmeat and beef stuck on Chinese wharves moving, after the Government here announced a breakthrough.

China's border agency has allowed more than 200 of the 1600 containers to enter the country.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said on Tuesday Chinese officials had accepted 245 new export certificates issued by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority.

New certificates for the remaining 1355 containers were given to the Chinese on Tuesday and are now awaiting approval.

MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie says meat companies are hoping for a speedy resolution so they can begin exporting again.

"My understanding is that the officials are working on this right at this minute also with the Chinese authorities.

"We're looking forward to getting some confirmation there as a matter of urgency and that would allow the exporters here to start having products certified for China."

Mr Ritchie says he does not think the issue of compensation is being looked at at this stage.

"The priority is to get the problem fixed and get the product moving again and then those are the sorts of matters that can be looked at later on."

China had refused to accept export certificates in the name of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Mr Guy says Chinese importers and agents will be able to start collecting the containers once the ports have processed them but warns it will take some time for the backlog to clear.

New Zealand is now working with Chinese officials so it can begin exporting new consignments.

No meat has left the country for China since 17 May.