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Wood processing strategy moves to next stage

Wood processing strategy moves to next stage

The Government and the forestry industry have agreed to continue and expand their successful partnership approach to encouraging more wood processing in New Zealand, Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton and Forestry Minister Jim Sutton said today.

The announcement follows a meeting between government ministers, industry leaders, and senior officials in Wellington last week.

The partnership, which is referred to as the Wood Processing Strategy brings together government, industry, local authorities and worker representatives to identify barriers to wood processing investment in New Zealand and ways to remove them. It was convened by Mr Anderton early last year to bring a "whole of Government" approach to developing the forestry industry and creating jobs, following the establishment of a similar taskforce to promote growth on the East Coast of the North Island.

The forestry industry has tremendous potential to contribute to New Zealand's sustainable economic growth and development, Mr Sutton said.

"If the challenging targets of the industry's Vision 2025 were achieved, forestry would increase its export earnings from $3.6 billion in 2002 to $14 billion by 2025, going from third to single largest export earner. The number of people directly employed in the forestry industry would increase from 23,000 to 60,000 over the same period.

"To achieve these targets much needs to be done. New Zealand has a wonderful resource of sustainably-produced radiata pine timber ? one of the most versatile timbers in the world. New Zealand's harvest volumes will continue to increase rapidly over the next ten years.

Mr Anderton said the dual challenge is to develop higher value export markets for this timber and to rapidly expand New Zealand's value added wood processing sector.

"By 2015, the wood from New Zealand's planted forests will double to 30-35 million cubic metres, and 10 years later, will have doubled again. Wood processing has the potential to go from our third largest export earner to our largest. "This would mean thousands of high quality jobs and a substantial increase in growth and GDP."

Mr Anderton and Mr Sutton said last week's meeting agreed the next phase of the wood processing strategy would place an increased focus on New Zealand's competitiveness as a location for wood processing activities. Market access and market development issues also required further work. Current work areas yet to be completed, including the provision of adequate infrastructure and skilled labour, would also continue, they said.

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