Customs Minister Nicky Wagner today welcomed the completion of a key trade system.
Trade Single Window, which is a major component of the Joint Border Management System programme by Customs and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), is an e-commerce platform that enables importers and exporters to meet all border requirements in one place.
“Trade Single Window first launched in 2013 and last month hit a major milestone with its five-millionth transaction. The final elements successfully rolled out over the weekend, meaning the system is now complete,” Ms Wagner says.
“This is the culmination of an incredible amount of hard work by both Customs and MPI. The completed system features four new lodgement types that will further streamline the border clearance process for goods and craft.”
The new lodgements will be available gradually over the coming months.
“Trade Single Window also incorporates the World Customs Organization’s latest data model (WCO3), which will allow border agencies to collect better data for risk assessments,” Ms Wagner says.
“Ongoing support from the wider import/export industry has been crucial in developing a system that works well not only for Customs and MPI, but for industry too.”
Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner is welcoming a free online initiative to help New Zealanders learn New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).
Learn NZSL is an e-learning resource developed by the Deaf Studies Research Unit at Victoria University of Wellington. It covers everyday vocabulary, phrases and conversations, supported by interactive tasks and 660 videos.
The Government contributed $230,000 through the NZSL Fund, administered by the NZSL Board.
“Since NZSL became an official language in 2006, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people wanting to learn how to sign,” Ms Wagner says.
“The Government is absolutely committed to maintaining and promoting NZSL. This free online initiative will enable New Zealanders to learn anywhere and at any time.
“Congratulations to the Deaf Studies Research Unit and to Sara Pivac Alexander, the project lead, for driving and developing such an important resource.”
Learn NZSL will be available from 6pm on 6 April 2017 at: http://www.learnnzsl.nz
Disability Issues and Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner today announced the group responsible for designing the new disability support system.
“The co-design process is an exciting opportunity for leaders in the disability sector to work in partnership with government to transform the disability support system,” Ms Wagner says.
The co-design group is made up of five disabled leaders, two family representatives and two service providers. It includes Māori and Pacific perspectives, people based in Palmerston North — the first region to be transformed, and people involved in the Enabling Good Lives (EGL) demonstrations at a national level and in Waikato and Christchurch.
The members of the co-design group are Jade Farrar, Shane McInroe, Gerri Pomeroy, Helena Tuteao, Esther Woodbury, Lawrence Chok, Tina Lincoln, David Matthews and John Taylor.
“The current system doesn’t work well for all disabled people, so there’s a great deal riding on this co-design phase — it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide better support and better services for disabled people and their families. We need to get it right,” Ms Wagner says.
“Our mission is to give disabled people more opportunities, more choice and greater control over the supports they receive.
“I’m incredibly grateful to all members of the group for taking on this challenge and I look forward to working together.”
The co-design process is the beginning of a nationwide transformation of the disability support system, based on the EGL vision and principles. The transformation will initially focus on those receiving support from Disability Support Services in the Mid-Central region.
Cabinet is expected to consider advice on the proposed system design in mid-2017.
Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner today announced the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquid will be made legal with appropriate controls.
“Scientific evidence on the safety of e-cigarettes is still developing but there’s a general consensus that vaping is much less harmful than smoking,” Ms Wagner says.
“The Government is taking a cautious approach by aligning the regulations around vaping with those for cigarettes. This ensures cigarette smokers have access to a lower-risk alternative while we continue to discourage people from smoking or vaping in the first place.”
New rules for all e-cigarettes, whether or not they contain nicotine, include:Restricting sales to those 18 years and over Prohibiting vaping in indoor workplaces and other areas where smoking is banned under the Smoke-free Environments Act Restricting advertising to limit the attraction of e-cigarettes to non-smokers, especially children and young people.
“This is an opportunity to see if restricted access to e-cigarettes and e-liquid can help lower our smoking rates, reduce harm and save lives,” Ms Wagner says.
“The Government is strongly committed to achieving our goal of a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025.”
All vaping products will need to meet quality and safety standards. The Ministry of Health will set up a technical advisory group to help define these standards.
A regulatory regime will also be established so the Ministry can consider whether other emerging tobacco and nicotine-delivery products should be regulated as consumer products in future.
“Public consultation showed a strong appetite for change so the Government is looking to introduce an amendment to the Smoke-free Environments Act this year. The changes will likely come into force later in 2018,” Ms Wagner says.
The Ministry of Health will continue to monitor the evidence concerning e-cigarettes and other emerging tobacco and nicotine-delivery products.
Associate Tourism Minister Nicky Wagner today opened new toilet facilities in Tekapo, co-funded through the Government’s Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund.
The Mackenzie District Council received $405,000 last year for the construction of two toilet blocks, one located near the Church of the Good Shepherd and the other in Tekapo township.
“Tekapo is an iconic Kiwi location, but this little town of around 400 people receives in excess of 100,000 visitors per month in the summer season, and we were seeing high demand for new facilities,” Ms Wagner says.
“It’s great to see this fund in action, helping smaller communities like Tekapo respond to growth in visitor numbers by developing new and enhanced infrastructure.
“There is no doubt tourism benefits the area — international and domestic visitors spent around $723 million in South Canterbury in the year to January, an 8 per cent jump on 2016. Tourism drives growth and job creation in this region, as in so many others around the country.”
The Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund was developed as part of the Government’s tourism strategy to help regions benefit from growth while managing the pressures it places on communities and infrastructure.
Budget 2016 allocated $12 million over four years for the Fund and an additional $5.5 million was announced earlier this month. The Tekapo toilets are one of 14 approved projects from the first funding round, held in 2016.
A second funding round is open until 12 April. For more information, visit: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/tourism/regional-mid-sized-tourism-facilities-grant-fund
Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman and Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner say the New Zealand Special Olympics team should be extremely proud of its outstanding results at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games held in Graz, Austria.
“The 13 athletes who competed in last week’s games have returned to New Zealand today with 18 medals,” says Dr Coleman.
“What’s even more impressive is that all members of the team have achieved personal best results.”
New Zealand’s athletes were competing alongside 2600 athletes from over 105 countries, and athletes are only allowed to enter two events each.
“The Special Olympics are a chance for us to get behind our athletes and to show the extraordinary things disabled people can accomplish through their hard work and determination,” says Ms Wagner.
“I would like to acknowledge the team’s success, as well as the dedication and passion of their supporters.”
The Government invests $600,000 a year into Special Olympics New Zealand through Sport New Zealand to provide opportunities for intellectually disabled New Zealanders to participate in sport.
Customs Minister Nicky Wagner is welcoming a commitment to help strengthen Fiji’s border security.
New Zealand Customs will provide support and training for the transformation of Fiji’s Revenue and Customs Authority through an almost $1 million development plan funded by the New Zealand Aid programme.
“The plan will improve border security by supporting organisational and staff development, regulatory and policy reform as well as stakeholder engagement,” Ms Wagner says.
“Pacific countries can be targets for transnational crime, including drug smuggling, money laundering and being used as a transhipment point, so any effort to improve border controls makes the wider region safer.”
The plan builds on other projects with Fiji in recent years, including the introduction of detector dogs and leadership training.
The New Zealand Aid Programme is also funding border capacity building work in Samoa and the Cook Islands.
An agreement to boost New Zealand-China trade was today signed by Customs Minister Nicky Wagner and China’s Ambassador, His Excellency Mr Wang Lutong.
The Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) ensures border agencies in New Zealand and China recognise one another’s trusted exporter programmes.
“New Zealand and China Customs enjoy a strong working relationship. This arrangement will further strengthen ties by helping streamline the movement of goods,” Ms Wagner says.
“Companies signed up to New Zealand Customs’ Secure Export Scheme will automatically benefit from faster cargo clearance, reduced document checks and less examination.”
The MRA will come into effect on 1 July 2017. More details on the implementation and benefits will be provided to New Zealand exporters and Chinese importers in the coming months.
China and New Zealand Customs also recently launched a Joint Electronic Verification System, which automatically sends New Zealand’s Certificate of Origin data to China for greater assurance over the authenticity of goods.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse and Customs Minister Nicky Wagner have today announced three new initiatives to make it easier for Chinese visitors to come to New Zealand.
“China is New Zealand’s second largest market and has made a valued contribution to the strong growth in New Zealand international visitor arrivals and expenditure over the last few years,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“In 2016, Chinese visitors to New Zealand spent $1.67 billion and by 2022 this number is projected to increase to $5.3 billion.
“It’s important we ensure New Zealand continues to be an attractive place to visit, which is why we’re making a number of changes to streamline the process and make things easier for Chinese visitors.”
The changes for Chinese nationals include:Extending the multiple-entry visa for Chinese visitors from three years to five years from 8 May. Extending the use of SmartGate facilities to Chinese passport holders. Enabling visa applicants to pay for online visa applications using the popular UnionPay debit and credit cards.
“The Government has introduced a number of measures in recent years to facilitate the growing number of Chinese nationals visiting New Zealand, and these new initiatives build on that,” Ms Wagner says.
“SmartGates make the Customs process faster and more intuitive, delivering a better visitor experience.”
Alongside the introduction of UnionPay in February this year, eVisas have already been implemented for Chinese nationals applying for visitor, student and work visas. In addition, Chinese visa applicants can also apply online using a Chinese version of the RealMe logon service.
Customs has done an outstanding job clearing a record number of passengers this summer season while continuing to protect the border with numerous seizures and arrests, Customs Minister Nicky Wagner says.
“Passenger volumes peaked as expected, with more than 3.68 million travellers passing through international airports in December, January and February — an 8.7 per cent increase on last summer. It was a big season for cruise ships too, with a record 139 visiting vessels carrying almost 312,000 passengers and crew,” Ms Wagner says.
Over 9.5 million mail items and 2.1 million airfreight consignments came into the country, and almost 260,000 sea containers were imported and exported.
“Customs has two important jobs — assisting travel and trade by quickly clearing legitimate passengers and cargo, and protecting New Zealand and New Zealanders by identifying criminals,” Ms Wagner says.
“Customs has been doing a superb job protecting our border for 177 years. It uses advanced technology and risk-profiling to screen passengers, vessels and cargo.”
From December 1 to February 28, Customs recorded close to 800 drug-related interceptions, including 44kg of methamphetamine, 121kg of its precursor ephedrine, and 19kg of ecstasy. An estimated 160 litres of t-boc methamphetamine was also recently seized.
Customs officers made 15 arrests over the summer, including six drug couriers and three passengers in possession of offensive material.