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Jim Sutton speech to Wgtn export seminar

Jim Sutton speech to Wgtn export seminar

Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce export seminar

Chamber chairman Barrie Saunders, chief executive Phil Lewin, Ladies and Gentlemen: thank you for the invitation to speak with you today.

Exporting is what drives wealth and creates jobs. Export industries are the lifeblood of a region and Wellington is no exception.

We need more companies to get into exporting, and to stimulate growth amongst our smaller and medium sized exporters ?because from small beginnings come big things!

A handful of examples?

Last year's Supreme Exporter of the Year Navman NZ had its beginnings in 1987 in a spare bedroom when a couple of mates got together to develop a marine electronics product. The company now exports more than $30 million worth of products annually.

Old Fashioned Foods, New Zealand's top exporter in 2000, started life in a Nelson kitchen with one man making steamed puddings to an old family recipe and selling them to local supermarkets.

Wellington has its own examples ? one of them is Formway Furniture.

This design lead company was a small manufacturing operation with annual revenue of less than half a million when Rick Wells bought the company in 1981. Today annual exports of its office furniture exceed $40 million and Formway Furniture is recognised as one of New Zealand's truly worldclass companies.

Vastly different products, but all these companies show that profitable and successful export businesses can be achieved from humble beginnings.

Our relatively small companies have the can do attitude, ability and flexibility to respond to customer demands that many of their much larger international comeptitors don't. The past decade has also seen the rise of many other companies in the Wellington area that have a strong ICT, creative and intellectual focus? film, education, designer fashion, software, multimedia, consultancy ? companies from sexy, sunrise export industries who are creating jobs and generating wealth.

We are not, of course, forgetting the traditional sectors which led the way in integrating New Zealand into the global economy, and have performed with sustained excellence since the painful but necessary reforms of the 1980 budget.

Style, confidence and the ability to innovate are characteristics found in many of the new breed of export companies in this region.

Companies that perform well internationally not only create wealth and jobs, they help promote the region as a desirable place to live, work, study and run a business.

Auckland might have had the America's Cup, but look at what Peter Jackson, Weta and The Lord of the Rings have done for this region?not only have they made a blockbuster success, they have created an international showcase for the region's technical and filmmaking brilliance.

Creativity, innovation and technical excellence abound in this region and these are qualities that can be captured, commercialised and exported to the world.

There is innovation to burn in Wellington and New Zealand as a whole ? after all this is the country that nurtured the mind the split the atom, that invented the world's fastest motorcycle, electric fences, the disposable syringe, bungy jumping, the stamp vending machine, the child-proof medicine bottle.

>From the Government's point of view, we're doing what we can to help you: Trade NZ and Industry NZ are merging to form NZ Trade and Enterprise to provide business with a one-stop shop for services. A total of $73 million over four years has been allocated for a variety of measures that will help exporters. A significant chunk of that is for more resources for trade negotiations. That means more people here in Wellington and overseas to argue our case for better market access for our products.

That market access is critical ? without access for your products, you won't be able to sell them in key foreign markets.

Later today, ladies and gentlemen, you will hear from some of the region's other successful exporters. Use their experience and the abundance of assistance available to help turn your great ideas into great ventures and, if you're already exporting, to maximise your potential.

As I pointed out at the start of my speech, big things coming from small beginnings. Dare to give it a go and dare to excel ? on the global stage no less.

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