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New Zealand steps up agriculture presence in China after trade concerns

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WELLINGTON, July 2 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government Tuesday announced it will increase the number of agriculture officials based in China after a series of concerns over its exports to China.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said after a meeting with Chinese Vice Minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) Wei Chuanzhong that two new Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff would be stationed in China by the end of the year along with "a number of locally engaged staff."

The meeting at AQSIQ in Beijing followed Guy's meeting with Chinese Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu earlier this week.

"Managing connections between New Zealand and China is a high priority for this government," Guy said in a statement from his office.

"These relationships are vital to be able to work with the Chinese authorities and businesses to ensure that trade which is in both countries' interest flows smoothly. It will also help us deal with any issues that arise in a timely and effective way," he said.

"China is New Zealand's largest export market, and dramatic growth has seen our trade triple in the past five years. This has been driven by China's economic growth, the Free Trade Agreement with China and New Zealand's strong reputation for food safety."

AQSIQ officials would be visiting New Zealand next week to begin work on new meat certification documents.

The new MPI staff in China will bring a combination of technical and policy expertise.

"When Minister Han Changfu was in New Zealand in April this year we signed a Strategic Plan on Promoting Agricultural Cooperation. Additional resources in China will help us get the most out of that arrangement, and other arrangements we have between our two countries," Guy said.

In January, MPI officials come under criticism for the way they handled information on the suspension of the use of pasture treatment chemical Dicyandiamide (DCD) after residues were found in dairy products, while in May, New Zealand meat was left sitting on Chinese wharves after MPI officials failed to properly inform Chinese Customs officials about changes in export certification documents.

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