Specialist NZ agriculture counsellor for Middle East

Last updated 13:39 10/03/2014

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New Zealand's growing milk and meat presence in Middle East countries will be boosted by a specialist agricultural counsellor to be stationed in Dubai.

The new position follows Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy's visit to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The appointment was the latest step to increase New Zealand's presence in the Middle East, he said.

"It recognises the growing importance of the New Zealand relationship with the region and will provide further support for New Zealand exporters," Guy said.

Based in Dubai, the position will cover key markets in the Middle East and seek to advance trade and economic relationships.

The position will also contribute to New Zealand's strategy to develop strong government and private sector relationships with the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC).

New Zealand exported about $1 billion in dairy products to the GCC region and just under $200 million of meat products. Trade experts have identified growing demand for high-value food and beverages in the market.

Guy said the agricultural counsellor would work with GCC authorities to reinforce New Zealand's reputation as a high-quality food exporter meeting the halal requirements of Islamic markets and Muslim consumers.

"New Zealand is well placed as a leader in agritechnology to provide a full range of agribusiness expertise, products and services throughout the region," he said.

"Having an MPI representative located in the region will increase New Zealand's capacity to take up such opportunities."

Food security is vital for the Middle East countries because of their scarcity of water and pastoral land and Gulf countries import up to 90 per cent of their food.

During his visit Guy met ministerial counterparts and high-level officials in Saudi Arabia and Oman, opened a Fonterra warehousing and distribution hub in the UAE and was in contact with New Zealand business people in the region.

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