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New Voice for NZ Wood Processors

New Voice for NZ Wood Processors

AUCKLAND, 9 September 2005: The launch of a new national organisation for the $2.5 billion wood processing sector, the Wood Processors Association of New Zealand Incorporated (WPA), will for the first time give its members a powerful and unified voice in advancing sector issues and supporting future growth, David Anderson, the WPA’s Interim Chairman said today.

“In a changing global business environment, the sector faces new challenges and opportunities. We have all known for a long time that we need to work together more, so the formation of this new body marks a big step forward, and will mean the WPA can bring new benefits to all members regardless of their size,” Mr Anderson, who is Managing Director of Winstone Pulp International (WPI), said.

“For example, if you are a smaller processor you have no real say in debate about electricity policies – even though your costs may have doubled. A united industry body can address that sort of issue much more effectively,” he said.

Current key industry concerns were the exchange rate, high energy prices, international competitiveness, investment, impediments to growing New Zealand businesses and developing new markets, he said.

“We are seeing an enormous amount of commonality among processors on the issues that matter most. While I am in the Interim Chair I intend to take a very pragmatic and inclusive approach to working closely with other timber and forestry organisations to achieve common objectives.”

Forestry accounts for 4% of GDP, and 26,000 jobs. The wood processing sector on its own delivers export earnings of $2.5 billion and accounts for investment in plant of $5 billion.

Tony Johnston, acting CEO for the WPA, said it will be a foundation member of the new “association of associations” forestry body, Woodco. Following its formation by an interim Steering Group in July it has already received confirmation of membership from firms accounting for 75% of the country’s wood processing output. It will elect a permanent board in November, and has begun searching for a permanent CEO.

“The sector is facing unprecedented challenges in government regulation, substitution, standards, international competitiveness, market access and continuity of supply,” Mr Johnston said. “The WPA will be working alongside other forestry organisations to address these challenges. I am delighted at the very strong response we have already had from the sector, by expanding the membership to include processors who are not yet represented is our goal as the more inclusive the association is the better it will be able to do its job.”

Mr Johnston said the WPA will give members access to national decision making, influence over matters that directly impact on their businesses, better levels of information and communications, and assistance in accessing resources. It will also provide support in training, employment, health and safety, environment, research and development and in positively promoting the benefits of New Zealand’s wood, fibre and related processed products both in New Zealand and overseas.

Any firm that processed New Zealand’s log crop for national and international sale is eligible to join the Association. Membership fees have been deliberately set at an affordable level, related to the size of the business, largely based on a firm’s output.

Firms requiring more information should contact either Mr Anderson at WPI or Mr Johnston at his consultancy, Mainsail Services, or visit www.wpa.org.nz

ENDS

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