8 Jul 2013

Meat exports to China hit another customs snag

7:00 am on 8 July 2013

New Zealand's meat exports to China have hit another snag - with containers of meat once again not able to clear customs there.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says about 1300 containers of meat have been caught out by a change of rules: under China's new import requirements, a veterinarian here must sign export documentation at the last site meat is stored before being sent to China - be it a slaughterhouse, coolstore or other processor.

MPI is now rushing to get vets from these sites to sign new export documentation and send it to China where it will be distributed among customs officials at the wharves, so the containers can get in.

It expects that process to take about a week but because of the staggered shipping of the meat it expects only about a quarter of the containers will be delayed.

Previously, New Zealand had a more centralised system where vets could sign off on exports from afar. MPI says it wasn't informed by China that the rules had changed and only found out when it heard a New Zealand container was stuck on the wharf in Dalian.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, who is on a trade tour of China at the moment, says the two countries have a warm and professional relationship.

The new rules took effect on Monday 8 July.