bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Level playing field looms down under

Despite the recent beekeeper protests, Biosecurity Minister Jim Anderton appears to have dismissed out of hand arguments that importation of bee products would destroy the Kiwi beekeeping industry:
The bee keepers had said that honey imports -- expected to price at retail for half the cost of New Zealand honey -- could make beekeeping untenable.

That, in turn, would cripple horticulture, which is hugely reliant on farmed bees for pollination.

To date, the import of bee products has been restricted due to concerns about a disease -- european foulbrood -- that posed a risk to healthy hives.

... Mr Anderton said New Zealand "cannot ignore or have double standards over our international trade obligations alongside our domestic obligations. We must continue to support a rules and evidence-based approach to international trade."

After recognising that the industry had suffered setbacks associated with the import-introduced varroa mite in recent years, he said honey must be dealt with on the same level playing field as other primary industry export.

... "New Zealand is a major primary producer, hugely reliant, more than any other developed nation, on the export of our primary produce. Over a third of New Zealand's total honey production, for example, goes overseas. This amounted to $36 million in 2005."

But any act of protectionism would lead to WTO challenges, he said.

... "The fact is New Zealand is a small trading nation and we have to follow the rules." said Mr Anderton.

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