Wednesday, 03 July 2024 12:55

Envoy's positive Fieldays debut

Written by  Peter Burke
EU Ambassador to NZ, Lawrence Merideth was impressed by his first visit to the National Fieldays at Mystery Creek. EU Ambassador to NZ, Lawrence Merideth was impressed by his first visit to the National Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

It's important that the benefits and opportunities of the New Zealand/European Union free trade deal (FTA) as outlined in the actual agreement become real deals.

That's the view of the EU Ambassador to NZ, Lawrence Merideth, who says the National Fieldays is a great place for this to happen and adds that he had many positive conversations with people about making this a reality.

Merideth took up his post in NZ late last year and was at Fieldays for the first time.

He says he was most impressed at the size of the event and the nature and quality of the exhibits and products and innovation on show. The EU once again had its own stand which featured a wide range of food from member states of the bloc including the Netherlands, Greece, Italy and France.

"Our message is that firstly we have got this new FTA which is beneficial to both countries.

"That while NZ is such a high performing and massive agricultural producer, it also uses a lot of European agritech, so it's important to say it's a partnership. That was very much the message from Prime Minister Chris Luxon who stated that NZ needs more partnerships," he says.

Merideth says he had a good opportunity to look around the Fieldays but one of the great aspects of the event was having conversations with exhibitors, farmers and politicians. He says he met with representatives of all the NZ political parties, many of whom came to the EU stand to chat and talk about the best ways to get the maximum benefit from the FTA.

He says it was also pelasing to see so many EU countries represented at Fieldays with products including Ireland, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain.

"I believe that Fieldays will be one of the key factors in providing momentum to develop the FTA," he says.

Merideth says in future he'd like to see more EU countries represented at the event. He says he had interesting discussions with representatives from Scion and Lincoln Agritech who were keen to explore opportunities with some of the countries not present at Fieldays. He says the FTA offers great benefits for the NZ horticulture sector and says it was good getting his finger on the pulse to see how they were taking up these opportunities.

Before his appointment as Ambassador to NZ, Lawrence Merideth spent 27 years working in Belgium and Fieldays turned up quite a big surprise.

"Over the years I have stumbled over a lot of fences in that country, but I never realised that many were made in NZ by Gallaghers.

"They have 85% of the Belgium fencing market which is something I didn't realise till I came here to Mystery Creek," he says.

Finally, Merideth says Fieldays is a great place to have conversations and shows to how much the EU and NZ have in common and where we could do business and innovate and work in partnerships together.

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