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Primary sector update - Autumn 2021

Welcome to our first sector update, covering New Zealand's Primary sector.

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The launch of our new website coincides with the introduction to our first sector update, covering the Primary sector. We will be sharing regular standards-related updates to provide specific and relevant information around sector issues, standards development, and use of standards for various key sectors in New Zealand.

Primary Sector Summit

The Standards New Zealand Sector Engagement Lead, Ceara Owen, attended the Primary Sector Summit held in Wellington in late 2020. Ceara identified two of the key themes at the Summit, where standards can support the sector were;

  • The impact of climate change on the primary sector environment
  • How to reduce Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).

At the Summit MFAT’s Deputy Secretary, Vangelis Vitalias, talked about the challenges in global trade and export markets and how protectionist barriers to trade are creeping back. He highlighted why it is so important to have agreements that incorporate international standards and rules to ensure that all economies are on an equal playing field.

He added that food miles – the distance a food travels from field to plate – as well as our animal welfare stance are perceived to be hindering New Zealand’s international reputation. We need to meet international standards in these and other areas to ensure we remain competitive in our target markets.

Vangelis explained the World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only international group that provides enforceable rules of trade between nations. The WTO’s Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement aims to ensure that technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures are non-discriminatory and do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.

Standards New Zealand operates the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Enquiry Point on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Find out more about Standards New Zealand's role in TBT

Building New Zealand's reputation internationally

New Zealand’s international reputation for providing sustainably grown, high-quality products was another key theme at the Summit. The proof of the integrity of our products is established through NZ’s strong regulatory frameworks – a key part of which is standards and standardisation.

Several key areas where the primary sector can benefit from standards and standardisation:

  • Providence
  • Animal welfare
  • Industry production standards
  • High standard of sustainable practices

Primary sector and the environment

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden explained to Summit attendees that the primary sector is a high priority for the New Zealand Government – in particular by partnering on the environment through the He Waka Eke Noa initiative.

We believe Standards New Zealand can be one of these partners with government agencies, through providing standards solutions both specific to New Zealand or through the adoption of international standards. Standardisation can help create national consistency in the processes that are delivered in the He Waka Eke Noa: Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership, including in the development of data collection standards. We look forward to engaging with all our stakeholders that are working in this space.

More information about this work and the agencies that are involved in the He Waka Eke Noa: Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership (based on the document He Waka Eke Noa: Our future in our hands published in July 2019), can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website.

He Waka Eke Noa: Our future in our hands [PDF, 1.7MB] - Manatū Mō Te Taiao Ministry for the Environment(external link)

He Waka Eke Noa - Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership - Manatū Mō Te Taiao Ministry for the Environment(external link)

Get the inside edge on what’s happening in the export world with ePing alerts

ePing is a valuable, free online web service for regulators and businesses.

You sign up quickly and easily to receive alerts on upcoming changes in export markets, including product requirements, labelling and standards that are not international.

You can choose how often you get alerted, the products you want to know about and the markets you are interested in.

ePing gives you a ‘heads-up’ about proposed changes to export requirements that affect your business. If you are in the know early enough it will give you enough time to prepare and adjust your business to any upcoming changes.

Being in the know about any changes that affect your business also gives you the opportunity to have a say before proposed changes become law. The country that wants to make changes is obliged to take your comments into account.

Sign up for ePing alerts(external link)

For more information you can email the New Zealand Technical Barriers to Trade Enquiry Point

New forestry standards on their way

Public comment has now closed on a revised draft for the joint Australian/New Zealand standard for Sustainable Forest Management (AS/NZS 4708).

This standard, along with the Australian Standard for Chain of Custody for Forest Products (AS 4707), was developed by Responsible Wood. They are both key components of the Responsible Wood Certification Scheme (RWCS).

The Standard Reference Committee includes a broad range of organisations in Australia and New Zealand that are involved in forest management, forest research, auditing, government, community, environmental, and indigenous and labour unions.

Although public comment on the draft, you can read more information on the Responsible Wood website.

Call for public comment on Australia and New Zealand Standard for Sustainable Forest Management - Responsible Wood(external link)

Forestry industry transformation programme

The Government has launched a new approach to industry policy, aimed at growing more innovative industries in New Zealand and lifting the productivity, sustainability and inclusivity of our key sectors.

Industry Transformation Plans (ITPs) have been developed for the agritech and construction sectors and are being developed for digital technologies, advanced manufacturing, food and beverage, and forestry and wood processing.

The primary focus of the Forestry and Wood Processing ITP is on transforming the sector from one that primarily concentrates on lumber production to an industry with a broader range of products that could lead to better export yields. Although there are already a number of standards in lumber production, this proposal means there may well be standards future that need to be developed.

Standardisation of products for international trade ensures that products have a high trust value to the purchaser. By adopting international standards, New Zealand businesses can be assured they are meeting consumer expectations and are therefore more competitive.

Standards New Zealand can help the wood forestry and wood processing sector become more involved in international standards development and also the adoption of international standards that align with the sector’s customers.

Interested in participating in international standards development?

Standards New Zealand facilitates New Zealand stakeholder participation in international standards development committees through our membership with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and membership of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), through the IEC National Committee of New Zealand.

If you're interested in becoming actively involved, or have any questions, email

We are currently seeking subject matter experts for the following ISO technical committees and subcommittees:

ISO/TC 6 - Paper, board and pulps(external link)

IS/TC 6 SC 2 - Test methods and quality specifications for paper and board(external link)

ISO/TC 89 - Wood-based panels(external link)

ISO/TC 89 SC 3 - Plywood(external link)

ISO/TC 165 - Timber structures(external link)

ISO/TC 218 - Timber(external link)