Horticulture Export Authority Chairs Meeting

Last week I attended a New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) meeting.  Its full title was HEA Chairs Meeting and Exporter Workshop.  The meeting had a dual purpose.  The morning was spent discussing the findings and recommendations of HEA’s 5-year Statutory Review Report.  The afternoon consisted of workshops on effective produce export market development techniques and capitalising on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) opportunity with China.

I walked away with several learnings from the day and the concluding dinner. These were:

  • There appears to be a disconnect between what HEA can do under its governing legislation and what the product groups which have chosen to export under the legislation believe HEA ought to be doing.
  • Those product groups which are not exporting under the HEA framework do not appear to have a clear understanding of what HEA’s function is.
  • KGI, the kiwifruit growers product group who works under the HEA framework for kiwifruit exports to Australia, believes that WTO exemptions applying to Zespri’s single point of entry status could also be applicable to other product groups.
  • MAF Policy managers present at the meeting took the position that it would  not be in New Zealand’s best interest from  a wider perspective to test the KGI belief.
  • HEA appears to be at times ‘anticipating’ a problem and advise product groups accordingly which some product groups think could result in them not fully taking advantage of all possible options in a given situation.
  • Conversely, HEA feels ‘underchallenged’ at times, in the words of its chairman, who encouraged product groups to engage more proactively with HEA on exploring export related regulatory opportunities.
  • A debate on the future role of HEA in light of the horticultural industry 2020 strategy and its $10 billion sales target is highly desirable.

There was general agreement at the end of the day that HEA needed to be commended for discussing the Review outcomes in an open industry forum rather than behind closed doors and with its members only, and for taking the initiative of getting everyone’s mind focused on the objectives of the industry strategy and calling for action.

Write a comment