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Economic Dev CEO Dangerfield Speech

Speech Notes For Ministry Of Economic Development Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield

5 May 2004


Opening remarks for seminar on ‘International connection and New Zealand business’


Hon Jim Anderton, people from the business community, academia, the press, government departments and operational agencies, and Ministry of Economic Development staff: I would like to welcome all of you here today to our seminar on international connection and New Zealand business and to the launch of the Growth and Innovation Framework website.

Our speakers this afternoon are going to be discussing a range of issues about the international dimension of economic development for New Zealand, and about the opportunities and challenges faced by New Zealand businesses as they go international, before the Minister launches the website.

As an introduction to these talks, I thought that I should comment briefly on some linkages that tie together our programme for the afternoon. There are two areas I want to highlight:

first, there is the linkage between Growth and Innovation Framework, or GIF as most of us now refer to it, and the role of the Ministry of Economic Development; and

second, there is the role of international connections as a key component of GIF and the part that MED plays in building these.

GIF and MED’s stewardship role

I’ll start with brief comments on GIF itself and on the way it is sometimes perceived.

GIF is the Government’s framework for economic development, with the goal of increasing national wealth and social well-being. Now to me there are two dimensions of GIF that I think need to be emphasised.

The first is the obvious one – that GIF is the framework the Government is using to develop policies and programmes that will help economic development. You will hear more about this later in the afternoon from Simon Murdoch and the Minister.

But the second dimension of GIF tends to get less recognition – GIF is also a framework for action. I want to emphasise this point because there are some in the business community and the media who still think that GIF is all about policies and that there are no actions on the ground. This is wrong. GIF is about both policy development and actions that make a difference.

And it is here that MED comes in. Our role in GIF is to act as stewards of the process. This means first that we work with other agencies such as Treasury, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Labour, Ministry of Research, Science and Technology and many others to make sure that there is a whole-of-government approach to economic development policies.

But our role as stewards also means that we have a second role - getting involved in practical actions that help push economic development forward. In this role, we work with delivery agents such as NZ Trade and Enterprise and the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology and with regional and local government, Economic Development Agencies, sector groups and businesses to make that government programmes are used and useful and that economic development happens ‘on the ground’.

It is important to emphasise this point because, ultimately, economic development will occur, not in Wellington, but out there in the rest of New Zealand.

International connection as part of GIF and MED’s role

This brings me to the second linkage I wanted to comment on – the role of ‘international connection’ or, as we started out calling it in 2002, ‘global connectedness’, as a key part of GIF. This is, of course, all about what we can do to develop the connections we need with the rest of the world so that we can make our way, and grow, as a small, relatively isolated nation in an increasingly globalised and competitive world.

Now Simon Murdoch is going to talk about this topic in some detail shortly so I won’t intrude on his territory. But, I do want to take this opportunity to comment briefly on some initiatives MED is taking as a ministry to increase the contribution we make to this aspect of economic development.

Over the past two years, we have made work on improving international connections a highest priority for the ministry. There are many aspects to this work and I won’t go into them all. Let me just highlight a few of the key initiatives we are taking.

First, there is the work we do on aligning regulations governing businesses in New Zealand with those of our major trading partners. This doesn’t sound very glamorous but it is crucial for economic success, as those of you here today who are in the business of exporting will know. You can be assured that the ministry is doing its best to make sure that our regulations are well aligned with those overseas, reflect best practices, and are designed to help rather than impede your jobs as exporters.

A second area that is increasingly preoccupying us is the work we do on international trading relationships, non-tariff barriers, trade rules, intellectual property and all the other arrangements that are required to ensure that New Zealand can fully participate in the global economy. Here, we are working closely with Foreign Affairs and with Trade and NZ Trade and Enterprise and I know Simon will be giving you a more comprehensive picture shortly.

Amongst all of New Zealand’s international relationships, that with Australia is the closest and, at least in the short term, the most critical for economic development. I am therefore pleased to be able to tell you that the ministry has recently appointed Guy Beatson to a new post with the NZ High Commission in Canberra.

Guy is currently a Director in the Industry and Regional Development Branch of the ministry. He will take up his position in July with the brief to focus on the issues that businesses will face as we move towards a single market with Australia. This means that he will be gathering intelligence on the issues faced by Australian businesses in Australian and foreign markets and by New Zealand businesses in Australia and will be working to identify the most pressing matters we will need to deal with ourselves and with the Australians to ensure that there is smooth progress towards a single market.

International connection, NZ business and the GIF website

The fact that MED is going to establish a presence in Australia so that we can better understand the drivers of change in the business environment there is a reflection of the centrality we give to business development in New Zealand as part of GIF.

Now our three speakers are going to be talking about international connection and New Zealand business and the Minister is going to launch the website so I don’t want to pre-empt any of the things they might say. But I do want simply to end with a couple of points about the way forward.

As I said earlier, economic development is not simply a matter of what happens in Wellington. It depends on businesses, the government and many individual New Zealanders working together to build a better future for New Zealand. To achieve this, I think we are going to have to pay a lot more attention in future:

to dialogue about the directions we are trying to take, the opportunities that exist and the issues we face, and

to information sharing on the policies and programmes that support economic development and the ways we can work together to make it happen.

I hope that our seminar today on international connection and New Zealand business will contribute to this dialogue and that the website we are going to launch will help build the information sharing.

So, without any more from me, let us turn to our main speakers.

First speaker - Simon Murdoch

Our first speaker is Simon Murdoch, Chief Executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He will talk to us about international connection in the context of GIF – why it’s important, how his Ministry fits in, and what the Government is doing to build stronger international connection.

Second speaker -

Our second speaker this afternoon is Michael Stedman, Managing Director, Natural History New Zealand. Michael has been asked to talk about Natural History New Zealand’s experience in overcoming the ‘tyranny of distance’ and topics such as making the transition from a TVNZ business unit to international company, the value that being based in New Zealand adds to Natural History New Zealand’s work, the influence of strategy versus serendipity, lessons learned and a sense of Natural History New Zealand’s next steps. I am not sure that he is going to cover all of these things but I am looking forward to his insights.

Third speaker

Our third speaker is Craig Norgate. Craig is an investor in New Zealand companies and a member of the Growth and Innovation Advisory Board. He also brings a wealth of past experience to our topic today from his former roles in setting up and leading Fonterra.

Craig has been asked to speak about business strategy and the internationalisation of New Zealand business, covering issues such as finding the right point of entry in the right value chain, building partnerships and networks, and the value proposition New Zealand business has to offer the rest of the world. We have asked him to draw from his experience as a member of the Growth and Innovation Advisory Board as well as from his work in the primary sector.

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