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Amcham Marks Government's 'Bright Future' Package

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) has given the government's latest "Bright Future - Five Steps Ahead" package an encouraging pass mark for its business education initiatives but a 'must try harder' verdict on the package's appeal to investors.

AmCham's trade and investment committee, which has been pressing the government to do more to attract foreign direct investment, said there were some gems in the Five Steps Ahead proposals, particularly in the tertiary education area. But there was little to persuade potential investors to include New Zealand on their list of destinations. "The worry is we may end up with well-qualified graduates but where are they going to work? They'll be off overseas and the intellectual drain we're experiencing will continue," says committee chairman Mike Stanley of Ernst & Young. "Foreign investment creates jobs."

AmCham was hoping for bigger things from the package in terms of tax breaks on research and development. "The government decision to take 'a hard look' at it at this late stage isn't much of a signal to investors, local or overseas," said Mr Stanley.

"Our view is that an overseas investor might look at this and say, 'the effort they're going to put into enterprise education is interesting, we'll take another look at New Zealand in five years.'"

Mr Stanley said the pluses in the tertiary education plans were encouraging but more needed to be done to make real progress.

AmCham is to seek an early meeting with Enterprise and Commerce Minister Max Bradford to offer "constructive comment" on the Five Steps Ahead initiatives. It will also offer experienced representatives for the Enterprise Education Taskforce through its Business Education Committee.


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