NEW Zealand meat exports to China are at a standstill as the government tries to sort out problems that are holding up consignments.
Up to $NZ100 million worth of chilled and frozen meat is sitting on wharfs, unable to enter the country.
New Zealand Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says progress is being made but won’t say how long he thinks it will take to clear up “very technical” documentation problems.
“Basically, we need to get the paperwork in order,” he told reporters on Monday.
“It is being raised at a very high level, we have a wonderful working relationship with Chinese officials.”
Part of the issue is last year’s renaming of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to the Ministry for Primary Industries, with the name on meat export certificates not changed until March this year.
Ministry director-general Andrew Coleman said there was no evidence the problem was due to anything other than a paperwork issue.
The government is denying China has blocked the exports as a protectionist measure.
Prime Minister John Key says it’s “just a catch-up in paperwork” at the Chinese end.
New Zealand Meat Industry Association spokesman Dan Coup says the hold up is very concerning.
“It’s something that could potentially cost our members a huge amount of money and trust with their customers,” he said.
Mr Guy says he first knew about the problem on Tuesday last week.