potato exporters have won the right top export seed potatoes and potatoes for processing to Thailand
to revise its quarantine requirements for potatoes imported from New Zealand
Previously, New Zealand potatoes for processing in Thailand had to go through a washing process to remove soil before export. This meant that they had to be shipped in refrigerated containers at temperatures that affected their color and appearance after processing, making them less appealing to Thai consumers.
Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Jim Anderton and Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said in a joint statement that the Thai decision basically opened up the market for New Zealand potato exporters.
"The size of the market will now solely depend on the competitiveness of the New Zealand varieties, rather than a perceived quarantine barrier," Anderton said.
Sutton said the positive outcome for New Zealand potato exporters was reached within months of the New Zealand-Thailand Closer Economic Partnership Agreement's conclusion.
"Prior to the agreement, negotiations over potato quarantine have been on-going between New Zealand and Thailand for a number of years," he said. "It's fair to say this is a significant outcome of the CEP."
In recent discussions, Biosecurity New Zealand and the Thailand Plant Protection Research and Development Office agreed on conditions for seed potato import, and Thailand has clarified their import requirements for soil associated with potatoes for processing.
The new conditions are in line with conditions recently notified for seed potatoes from Scotland and Australia and open a new market for New Zealand seed potato producers and exporters.
Anderton said the potential for process potato exports might be even greater than for seed potatoes, as the agreement that the potatoes now need only be brushed free of soil allows them to be transported at temperatures that ensure the best possible quality on arrival.