China velvet access: Constructive meetings held in China and NZ

Apr 18, 2024

A flurry of “constructive and positive” meetings in New Zealand and China on the frozen velvet issue, have revealed “healthy relationships at all levels,” says DINZ executive chair Mandy Bell, with negotiating teams aiming for a timely resolution.

DINZ executive chair Mandy Bell (left) met with China Deer Industry Association vice-chair Professor Wang in Dong’Ao, China, one of the four CDIA vice-chairs included in Bell and Griffiths’ itinerary. Bell and DINZ markets manager Rhys Griffiths visited China in mid-March to meet with New Zealand and Chinese officials to advocate for timely resolution of the issue.

Bell made the comments at the most recent “town hall” video conference in early-April, which attracted 50 velvetters, processors and others from industry.

Looking to “turn over every stone,” during the visit, Bell was encouraged to find, “very healthy relationships at all levels.”

A meeting was held at the New Zealand embassy in Beijing, which included the New Zealand ambassador and trade commissioner, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) two in-market counsellors and representatives from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). That meeting confirmed for Bell that deer velvet is their current “number one priority” and the need to “continue to work closely together”.

Travelling with the China Deer Velvet Coalition (CDVC)’s Felix Shen, the two also met with other contacts in a comprehensive programme which started “at the start of the velvet value chain” in Northern China and led to Beijing. Shen will be in weekly contact with the MPI team in Beijing, so any developments can be quickly picked up.
Strong support is coming from business contacts too, who are lobbying provincial government seeking a “favourable and timely resolution” to the issue.

MPI’s negotiators are dealing with multiple Chinese agencies on the highly complex issue. DINZ continues to support them with advocacy and technical assistance.

Meetings have continued since their return from China, too. DINZ met with MPI and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade personnel in Wellington.

DINZ has already given technical input for the initial negotiation phase, “remembering that the goal is to regulate health and safety and avoid any unjustified barriers to trade”, said Griffiths.

Realising deer farmers will need market certainty on what is happening, the MPI negotiators are aiming for conclusion by the middle of his year.

Pictured after the meeting at the New Zealand embassy in Shanghai are (left to right): Jack Lee (MPI), Chris Metcalfe (NZTE), Felix Shen (DINZ), Mandy Bell (DINZ executive chair), Grahame Morton (NZ ambassador to China), Charlotte Austin (MPI), Virginia Connell (DINZ) and Aramiro Tai Rakena (MPI).

MPI’s Wellington-based negotiating team is planning to go to China in the coming weeks to continue negotiations.

Last week, Damon Paling – the trade advisor contracted by DINZ on behalf of the deer industry to coordinate activity – briefed New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s incoming trade commissioner for Shanghai, Steve Jones, who will be heading out to the market in June, on the deer industry and also this particular issue.

Velvetters attending the forthcoming Deer Industry Conference on Wednesday 8 May in Napier, will get a further update, followed by another town hall conference call in late-May.

In the meantime, DINZ will continue to work closely with MPI, MFAT and the relevant players along the whole value chain. Any urgent matters will be communicated directly with velvetters as needed. 


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