New Zealand FM to discuss dairy issues on visit
Updated: 2013-08-19 08:19
McCully seeks to reassure Chinese customers and cement relationship
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully will visit China this week to update authorities on the response to recent meat and dairy issues.
In a statement released on Sunday, McCully said he will attend a series of bilateral meetings in China, adding that his visit had been "planned for some time".
In China, McCully will meet with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and State Councillor Yang Jiechi to discuss a wide range of issues.
Earlier this month, China banned import of milk powder from New Zealand after its leading dairy company, Fonterra, found a type of bacteria that can cause botulism in some of its products in seven countries, including China.
China has imported 371,000 metric tons of raw milk powder from New Zealand in the first half of this year, accounting for approximately 83 percent of the country's total milk powder imports, according to the General Administration of Customs.
It has been reported that Fonterra, the world's biggest dairy exporter, detected the presence of toxic bacteria in milk products early in March, but its announcement came six months later.
"Our relationship with China is much broader than trade. We are working closely together on a range of issues, including in the Pacific, where China is an increasingly important player," McCully said.
"Te Mato Vai, the NZ$60 million ($48.62 million) water partnership between New Zealand, China and the Cook Islands, is the first of its kind and a blueprint for future development cooperation in the region," he added.
McCully will also make his first visit to Mongolia, where he will meet with President Elbegdorj Tsakhia and Foreign Minister Bold Luvsanvandan to discuss possible cooperation in agriculture and education.
In Hong Kong, New Zealand's foreign minister will meet with local government officials and members of the business community.
In an earlier development, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said on Tuesday that he will pay a visit to China later this year to extend a personal apology to Chinese consumers over the milk scare.
He said an apology is important to restore trust in New Zealand's food products after global recalls of his country's dairy products.
He said it was unusual for the leader of a nation to apologize on behalf of a company, but Fonterra's reputation was inextricably tied to that of New Zealand.