26 Nov 2009

Government stands above kiwifruit dispute

3:02 pm on 26 November 2009

The Government says it will defend the country's overall interests against any criticism from other governments over how its kiwifruit industry is being run.

Produce company Turners & Growers, which is in a legal fight with marketer Zespri, has been accused of trying to further its own cause after the US raised questions at the World Trade Organisation about kiwifruit marketing.

Turners & Grower's chairman Tony Gibbs says his staff dropped off documents on its kiwifruit legal case to the United States embassy in New Zealand.

Mr Gibbs says all the documents had been on its website for months, and Turners & Growers staff simply took the papers to embassy, took embassy staff through them, and that was the end of it.

Turners & Growers told Radio New Zealand on Wednesday the case was brought to the attention of the US officials by its partner in that country.

Trade Minister Tim Groser says it would be very unhelpful if a New Zealand company was working with foreign governments in its legal battle.

Mr Groser is guarded about whether that accusation is true - but says the dispute is a commercial issue dressed up as issue of principle of trade policy, and the Government will defend New Zealand's overall interest.