1 Jul 2013

Chinese officials look at meat export approvals

9:26 am on 1 July 2013

Chinese auditors will be visiting New Zealand meat plants over the next few weeks to see whether they can be fast-tracked for export approval.

Prime Minister John Key requested the Chinese fast track more New Zealand meat plants during a trade mission to the country in April.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) deputy director general Wayne McNee says the trade mission is expected to arrive in the country shortly.

He says it will send out an audit team to inspect the plants and MPI will be looking to reach an agreement.

Mr McNee says the Chinese authorities have said this will happen quickly, but the auditors obviously need to assure themselves that the plants meet the agreed standards.

He says the Ministry for Primary Industries is exploring compensation with meat companies whose product was stuck on Chinese wharves in May after ministry officials made blunders.

Mr McNee says MPI is trying to improve the way it operates, though the vast majority of the thousands of approvals it issues every week for products exported into markets all over the world run smoothly.

"But that is a government to government interaction and sometimes there are reasons why a product doesn't flow as smoothly as you would like, that has always been the case. Obviously we are looking at how we can improve our systems and work more effectively with other governments."

New Zealand's beef exports to China tripled in value in the first three months of 2013 to $38 million.

Late last year, China became the biggest destination for sheep meat exports too.

Meanwhile, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy left for an agribusiness trip to Beijing, Shanghai and inner Mongolia.

Mr Guy says the trip is about matching New Zealand agribusiness companies with business opportunities in China, particularly in the pasture and animal husbandry areas, and also companies who construct dairy farms.