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Potential For Export-Led Growth Broadening

The latest trade data for manufactured exports confirms that the base of the economic recovery is broadening at last, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

"Export growth of our sophisticated manufactured goods is picking up the pace to add to the export success of the agricultural commodity sector," said Bruce Goldsworthy, Director of EMA's Manufacturing Division.

"Last year manufactured exports, not counting meat or dairy products, swept past $12 billion in value, up 29 per cent. $8 billion of these were in the 'elaborately transformed' category incorporating advanced kiwi technical know-how.

"However the challenge presented by the cloud of recession hanging over the US economy, and the downturn in the construction industry in Australia, (and locally), means the struggle to retain market share is just beginning.

"As well, a large part of the apparent growth in value of our exports last year was an illusion resulting from the plunge in the value of the NZD.

"Nevertheless ETM products are not so dependent on world prices as they are on innovation, marketing and distribution skills, so their market position is more defensible should the US market flag, or the NZD strengthen.

"If the present trends are sustained we can look forward to an expansion of the local manufacturing base as new investment projects are committed, but we are not at that stage yet.

"In the longer term we may see New Zealand record a trade surplus."

Further comments: Bruce Goldsworthy tel 09 367 0948

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