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Premier Li Keqiang meets with New Zealand prime minister

Updated: Mar 19,2014 11:11 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING -- New Zealand Prime Minister John Key kicked off a three-day visit to China on March 18. Premier Li Keqiang met with him to discuss the safety of New Zealand food products after last year’s global botulism scare.

Premier Li Keqiang and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, have a lot to talk about.

Their discussion touched on increasing agriculture and food safety cooperation, financial sector partnerships, enhancing bilateral trade and the two country’s economic and political relationship.

Li said s joint-statement made by New Zealand and China on the direct exchange mechanism between the RMB and NZ dollar will help boost trade between the two countries.

Chinese consumers are likely most keenly interested in the two leaders’ discussion on food safety.

Prior to his trip Key said he planned to assure Chinese leaders and consumers that New Zealand food products are safe – addressing concerns left over from last year’s global botulism scare.

Li told Key that China hopes New Zealand will expand its oversight of export products and bring in tougher standards.

Key said he understands China’s food safety concerns and pledged his government will impose stricter regulations on dairy exports to China.

The New Zealand government announced last month that it had set up a working group to improve tracing of dairy products. This is the result of dairy maker Fonterra’s global product recall last August. Tests had mistakenly shown Whey protein concentrate contained a botulism-causing bacterium.

The government inquiry into the incident recommended improving the dairy sector’s ability to trace products and ingredients.