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Making Our Economy Stronger - Anderton Speech

Hon Jim Anderton Speech notes

Making Our Economy Stronger

4.30 pm
10 May 2001
NZ Trade Centre
Ground level
Guardian Trust Building
105 Queen Street
Auckland

Thank you for inviting me here today.

I am always pleased to celebrate and promote business success.

As Minister for Economic Development and a proud New Zealander I am interested in our successes and in new ideas.

And as someone who used to have a factory with raw materials going in one end and high quality manufactured goods coming out the other I appreciate the work of all of you here. I understand the issues and challenges you face. I know the knocks you all must take.

I also know that you are the backbone of our economy. You create products that earn New Zealand export income and keep New Zealanders employed.

New Zealanders are the only people in the world who will secure the future for this country. The only way we can provide security and opportunity for ourselves is to work together.

We have to get started because New Zealand is slipping behind other economies with which we like to compare ourselves.

Our average income has been slipping behind the average income of other developed countries for three decades. Our overseas debt is monumental. The last time we earned more overseas than we spent was in 1973.

It is time to acknowledge that we do need to do better -- at the local, regional and national level.

The businesses represented here are part of a small exclusive club. You are part of under four per cent of our companies who are exporting.

That is only 8,841 businesses out of 259,000 in the whole of New Zealand. 127 companies account for 73% of our total merchandise exports. 30 companies earn half of our foreign exchange.

This adds up to a very narrow, and shallow, export base, highly dependent on a relatively small number of large exporters.

What businesses like you and organisations like the NZ Trade Centre achieve is a better future for all of us. And we need to generate more exports.

When we have a good product we should make it the best it can be because we can then sell it with pride to the rest of the world.

At the end of last year I met with the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore. Singapore is a country to which we used to provide aid. However in the last 30 years, with very little in the way of natural resources, Singapore has targeted and addressed barriers to economic growth to the point that their country has huge cash reserves.

Yet the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore told me that he envied New Zealand. And if we have something they envy then we need to take note. I asked him what it was that he envied about New Zealand. His reply was it is the ability of kiwis to be innovative and creative.

We have to produce, retain and attract the people we need. The challenge for New Zealand is to be a country that is attractive to skilled and talented individuals. Attractive enough for them to invest their energy and resources and attractive enough to live in.

We need a country that is confident in its own unique culture. We need to see New Zealand performers on the world¡¦s stages. We need to be proud of what we do and the unique, distinctive way we do things.

As a nation we have to realise that lifting our nation up is over to us. We need to work together to create the New Zealand that we want.

However, as we all know making these gains requires hard work.

The New Zealand Trade Centre is committed to generating and capturing ideas, and then making them work for us in practical ways.

I understand that the NZ Trade Centre is unique in the way it operates in that it is funded by the exporters who display their products in the permanent exhibition.

The Centre is a world leader in using the world wide web to promote export products by having a national database of exporters available to anyone to log into.

From my own experience I know that the web has great potential for New Zealand business.

During the last election campaign I was in a mall in Manukau and I saw a shop that had no people in it, but some amazing items for sale. There was a boat and some art works and they had price tags of $20,000, and $30,000.

The strangest thing about the shop was there were no customers and no one seemed interested in selling me anything. Finally I caught the attention of someone who worked there. I asked her about the goods for sale. She said that most of the ones in the shop had all been sold.

I couldn't work out who in the Manukau Mall had bought all these amazing things. But it wasn't people who walked in off the street but sales from the internet. New Zealand and pacific art and crafts were being sold to people in Texas, London, Seattle and Moscow.

New Zealand's products are as good, and in many cases better, than any in the world.

Today I am pleased to announce another good idea from the New Zealand Trade Centre that will support our exporters.

The New Zealand Trade Centre intends to visit every single New Zealand exporter.

The good news is that the New Zealand Trade Centre staff will have only 8,500 doors to knock on.

The even better news is that if they succeed in encouraging export activity they will have even more doors to knock on in future.

This initiative will involve talking to exporters about how they can be helped to do better.

Advice will be offered on:
„h using web-sites as an international marketing tool.
„h sharing information and providing exporters with an opportunity to promote their goods here and on the web site that¡¦s become the largest on-line directory of New Zealand exporters.

These are the kind of initiatives New Zealand needs more of.

As well as being Minister for Economic Development I am also Minister of Customs and I understand that the New Zealand Trade centre has been working with New Zealand Customs and the Auckland International Airport to promote local products to all visitors arriving in New Zealand.

As passengers are waiting to go through passport control they can see visitors of New Zealand products who will provide samples and information on the best that this country has to offer.

I am looking forward to seeing this launched in the next two months.

This Labour Alliance Coalition Government is committed to working with business to be successful. We have set up the Ministry of Economic Development and Industry New Zealand to work in partnership with businesses and local communities to create sustainable economic, industry and regional development in New Zealand.

I am leading these agencies in creating steering groups with industry representatives from wood processing, manufacturing and other industries. These steering groups are identifying barriers to growth and then developing plans to increase business and jobs.

Industry New Zealand has only been in existence for eight months and is in the process of appointing regional managers to work across New Zealand with business. There is a lot of work to be done.

Turning this country's foreign exchange deficits to surpluses will not be easy.

As I have said we need the creative ideas and the energy to make this a reality.

I think it is fair to say we also need to be tougher.

If New Zealand is to do better both socially and economically we need to get more comfortable, and certainly a lot more enthusiastic, about celebrating our successes rather than dwelling on our failures.

In travelling New Zealand, through the regions and visiting different communities I have met and talked with many people.

What has amazed me is the shy, almost embarrassed, way that people in New Zealand talk about their achievements. What they do and what they have done is often excellent and sometimes brilliant, but they are reluctant to be seen to be promoting themselves.

In the last few months there has been some discussion about how we can make New Zealand the best small country in the world.

My thought for today is that we need to be prepared to have a go and if necessary risk failure. We need to be prepared to try things. New things. Test out the innovative ideas for which we are so famous.

German president, naval commander and the Shotover Hamilton Jet

I am here today as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development in a Government that appreciates the enormity of what we have to achieve. Our budget on 24 May will contain a number of initiatives designed to capture the ideas and talents of New Zealanders. Programmes and initiatives that will see Government work with business in partnership to promote growth and jobs.

I am here today to say that this Government is prepared to roll our sleeves up and work with you.

Thank you for the invitation to be here today.

But more importantly, thank you, all of you for having your ideas, for making them happen and for being tough enough to shrug off the inevitable knocks and keep working for New Zealand.

ends

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