Key to address aggressive 'Buy Australia' campaign with Abbott

  • 05/02/2014

Kiwi vegetable growers are saying positive, despite an increasingly aggressive "Buy Australia" supermarket campaign underway across the Tasman.

Prime Minister John Key heads to Australia today to talk to his counterpart Tony Abbott about the campaign.

It has seen Australian supermarkets Coles and Woolworths take New Zealand-made products sold under their in-house brands off the shelves.

Buy NZ Made executive Scott Wilson says the chains are "systematically removing New Zealand-produced goods from their house brand labels simply for being non-Australian".

He says frozen foods, cheese and fresh vegetables are among the products affected.

"We have no intention of taking a protectionist stance by suggesting people avoid products that aren't New Zealand made," he said.

"Consumers can buy things that aren't made here if they wish... that's why it's disappointing to see the Buy Australia campaign using such aggressive tactics against our products."

Horticulture NZ chief executive Peter Silcock hopes it won't have much of an impact.

"We're disappointed, naturally, because our industry exports a lot of product to Australia and all around the world.

"It's a very good standard and we're disappointed that the supermarkets aren't going to be using it in the home brand."

The New Zealand Food and Grocery Council says the move could cost the New Zealand industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

Yesterday, Prime Minister John Key said the issue was against the spirit of trade relations with New Zealand.

"Even if it's legally not [a breach of CER], it's arguably a breach of the spirit of CER, and we're going to be raising that with Tony Abbott," he said.

"The whole spirit of CER is an integrated Australasian market, and we feel that the big companies in Australia should actually observe that. We can always retaliate but their market's five or six times bigger than ours, so that doesn't help us much."

Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich says New Zealand and Australia have the most comprehensive free trade agreement in the world but that isn't stopping the supermarkets reacting to the campaign.

Ms Rich says exporters are afraid to talk about the problem in public in case they are blacklisted by the Australian supermarkets.

Labour's economic development spokesman, Shane Jones, says several exporters have raised the problem with him.

3 News/RadioLIVE

source: newshub archive