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Marine Industry New Zealand annual meeting, Auck

Jim Sutton Speech: Marine Industry New Zealand annual meeting, Auckland

Ladies and Gentlemen: thank you for the invitation to speak with you this morning.

Marine is one of New Zealand's flagship industries, representing innovation, outstanding craftsmanship, quality and technological excellence.

It is an industry that many New Zealanders taken a keen interest in ? New Zealand has one of the highest counts of boats per head of population and the highest marina use in the world.

I myself am a late convert to the pleasures of sailing. I went sailing last year on a Team New Zealand yacht and it was a particularly enjoyable experience. As a previously landlocked South Canterbury farmer, it opened my eyes to the attractions of the marine life.

New Zealand is now one of the world's largest producers of superyachts, both power and sail.

There is a perception amongst the wider public that the marine industry is all about boat building. While boat building is a very important part, the marine industry is about a lot more than that. It's also about consulting, hardware and accessories from sails and masts to booms and rigging, marine electronics and software, apparel and buoyancy aids.

Repair, maintenance and refit is the fastest growing sector in New Zealand's marine industry. UK's Babcock set up in New Zealand after securing a foothold in the Royal New Zealand Navy's dockyards at Devonport in Auckland. Many more companies throughout regional New Zealand are working on commercial working boats and providing integrated mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering facilities.

Growing ahead of the boat sales is the hardware and accessories side of the New Zealand industry.

Companies like Maxwell Winches, which enjoys a major share of the North American superyacht anchor winch market and Navman NZ, specialists in the design and manufacture of marine navigation products.

New Zealand's marine industry also includes a stable of talented and proven naval architects and designers whose expertise is recognised internationally. These people are passionate about the industry, both professionally and personally.

In the past 15 years, New Zealand has been developing a marine industry that's now rated with the best in the world.

The Government has recognised this in terms of the wealth and jobs the industry creates for New Zealand and the profile the industry gives us internationally. We continue to give assistance in a wide variety of ways to accelerate and support the growth of the whole industry.

Much of that support has come through government agencies, including Trade New Zealand, Technology New Zealand, Investment New Zealand and more recently Industry New Zealand.

I should preface talk of Trade New Zealand and Industry New Zealand with the fact that they will soon be the one organisation ? New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Effective from 1 July, the new organisation will be responsible for developing and implementing trade, industry, and regional development policies in partnership with industry, businesses, iwi, central and local government, and relevant community groups.

Amalgamating business capability advice along with exporting support will be beneficial to business ? a one stop shop.

I understand Peter Menzies, a Director of the new organisation, will go into more detail of what this merger means for marine companies later today.

As Trade Negotiations Minister, my particular focus is export.

External trade is of fundamental importance to New Zealand, with exports crucial to the economic health of the country. Exporting enables companies to specialize and to reach a far bigger audience than they can by simply focusing on the domestic market. Exporting brings foreign exchange into the country, which boosts the wealth of the nation. New jobs are created to help meet the demand for products and services generated by exporting.

The marine industry is worth more than NZ$700 million a year ? half of that is in exports. Exports have doubled since 1997 enjoying a 23% compounding growth rate per annum.

Some of that growth had been fuelled by the low New Zealand dollar against the US dollar and the cost of labour in New Zealand. But much of it is the result of the industry leveraging its reputation for producing quality and by extending its market reach, with Trade New Zealand's help, to places like South Africa, South East Asia and South America.

The Government, through Trade New Zealand has had a long and close relationship with the New Zealand marine export industry.

We have shown support and belief in the industry, illustrated by our commitment to industry groups such as MAREX.

By working in partnership with individual marine companies and export groups, Trade New Zealand increases the ability of companies to export. One of its key strengths is its global network ? offices in 37 overseas locations ? all key export markets. These offices have the capability to carry out work for New Zealand marine exporters in more than 50 countries. They are staffed by a combination of seconded New Zealanders who understand New Zealand's export capability and locally engaged staff who understand the local environment.

Between them they have extensive networks and the knowledge to not only undertake work in response to client requests, but to open doors at the highest levels and to proactively identify opportunities in the market.

Each year Trade New Zealand receives thousands of trade enquiries from overseas buyers, of which around 3000 are verified and passed on to exporters.

All of these verified enquiries are now directed to exporters profiled on Trade New Zealand's new website MarketNewZealand.com.

The site boasts a directory of New Zealand exporters, an online trade enquiry system, market intelligence and news and events. This new service is the result of an extensive two-year e-business programme by Trade New Zealand.

The trade promotion agency has progressively rolled out a number of online services during this time, including an exporter directory that is now on MarketNewZealand.com and features around 1900 profiled exporters.

A recent four-month trial of MarketNewZealand.com resulted in more than two-thirds (1300) of profiled companies receiving at least one international trade enquiry.

I am pleased to hear that there has been a very good uptake of this service by the marine industry, with many companies profiled on the website.

The next step is a major marketing campaign by Trade New Zealand's global network of offices to ensure the MarketNewZealand.com site is foremost in the minds of international buyers.

MarketNewZealand.com is a powerful, free tool for exporters and buyers looking to source New Zealand products and services.

Another new and exciting initiative, this one designed specifically for the marine industry, is the new Fort Lauderdale beachhead initiative that is giving New Zealand marine exporters a gateway into the important US market.

Trade New Zealand opened an office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida late last year.

This is the second initiative to be established under the Trade New Zealand "beachhead programme"; designed to give exporters a permanent presence in key trade markets like the USA, UK and Singapore.

The Fort Lauderdale beachhead initiative has two main objectives: to help New Zealand marine companies develop business in the USA; and to provide a cost-effective mechanism to the companies to establish a physical presence in the USA. This gives them an American address and phone number on their letterhead - a local presence is critical when targeting this market.

There has been an excellent response to this beachhead initiative, with 15 New Zealand marine companies currently paid-up subscribers.

The subscribers are across the board in terms of size and the sectors they represent ? from small companies to big companies and including boat builders, spar makers, hardware and accessory manufacturers.

Subscribers can use the Fort Lauderdale office facilities when they are in the US on business, for work and meetings and entertainment.

The Trade New Zealand office manager acts as their eyes and ears in the market, providing research, market intelligence on competitors, assistance at trade shows, introductions to potential clients and identifying and qualifying business opportunities.

This was very much an industry-driven initiative. Government listened to the industry and the beachhead programme was tailored to the marine industry's needs.

Trade New Zealand supports marine industry participation at international trade fairs with Export Network funding.

The scheme is also going to be used to send High Modulus Managing Director Richard Downs-Honey to Dubai as a representative for the marine industry to make a presentation to the Palm Island Project.

Trade New Zealand's Dubai office as been facilitating the involvement in this massive project for some time.

The Palm Islands are two man made islands in the shape of a palm tree located in Dubai the total scale of which is hard to comprehend including:

- 120 kilometres of new manmade coastline - 100 luxury hotels - 5000 exclusive beachside villas - 4800 shoreline apartments - four marina complex - cafes and shopping malls

Construction of the landmass is well advanced and there are reports that up to 40,000 workers will be involved directly in the project.

The breakwater is a large land mass which is where many of the hotels will be located. The outer breakwater has no road access.

Trade New Zealand has been monitoring the procurement requirements for the Palm Island water transportation, the area where they see particular opportunities for Kiwi companies.

The Prime Minister has visited Dubai and pitched for New Zealand companies and the Government is now helping Mr Downs-Honey do the same on behalf of the industry.

While high profile events like the America's Cup are focused on marketing and branding the industry, the other side of the equation is the development of new products and processes, essential to ensuring New Zealand's marine industry continues to grow.

There is the potential to use a lot of advanced materials and technologies in boats, and companies need to stay up with or ahead of the game.

The Government, through the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. provides a source of funding to help with R&D.

Over the years millions of dollars has gone into research in the marine sector generally by way of research grants and scholarships through Technology New Zealand [part of the Foundation].

Recent marine industry companies to take advantage of Technology New Zealand research funding includes Southern Spars which has developed a software programme to assist the process of yacht mast and rig design.

This assistance is not just about money. It's also about linking companies to each other and to professional research organisations, creating skilled practical people to work in the industry.

Ladies and Gentlemen: this Labour-Progressive Government is working hard to encourage innovation in all sectors of our society. Your sector is an example of innovation.

Innovation is at the heart of many of our fastest growing and most profitable marine companies. Innovation is what sustains and drives this very exciting and high achieving industry.

Thank you for your hard work to date, and I wish you the best for the future.

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