• John Luxton
Associate Minister of Agriculture

Associate Minister of Agriculture, Hon John Luxton, recently represented New Zealand at the biennial meeting of the South West Pacific Ministers of Agriculture, held in Apia, Western Samoa on 23-24 June 1997.

Also in attendance were Agriculture Ministers from Western Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu, along with representatives from the Australian government and the Cook Islands, all member countries of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Items on the agenda included regional agricultural trade policy issues, as well as plant and quarantine concerns, all issues which are of importance to New Zealand as well as the Pacific nations. One of the objectives of the meeting was to encourage both the FAO and individual Island member countries to develop regional programmes to address these issues.

Mr Luxton presented a paper titled "Agricultural Trade in the Pacific Economies: Trade liberalisation and its Implications", which covered a number of issues linked with trade liberalisation and promotion.

The paper explained the positive contribution that tariff reform will make to reducing input costs faced by the agricultural sector.

Mr Luxton said today, "The meeting saw a need to encourage exports of agricultural products and recognised that efforts would be required on a broad front to maximise countries' limited resources. The essential role of the private sector in developing trade was also acknowledged.

"This second meeting was constructive and useful in giving a sense of direction for the local FAO office. New Zealand has traditionally maintained a good relationship with the Pacific members of FAO and this forum was an opportunity to show leadership and give guidance and encouragement to their activities," Mr Luxton concluded.