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Minister for Economic Development

Minister for Economic Development

Forestry industry representatives have been invited to Wellington to meet with Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton to discuss the industry's development strategy.

Jim Anderton said he wanted to touch base with a broad range of representatives from the sector to ensure they remained committed to accelerating the industry's development towards high valued-added products and markets as outlined in the Wood Processing Strategy after comments earlier today by the Timber Industry Federation's executive director, Wayne Coffey.

The Timber Industry Federation appears to think that the government is hostile to business and views industry as 'some sort of necessary evil,' according to a Radio New Zealand report.

"In reality, there hasn't been a government in our recent history that has been so prepared to be engaged with the wood industry as this coalition government. When I chaired the Wood Processing Taskforce it was the first time that such a comprehensive and representative industry grouping had been brought together to address industry-wide concerns.

"We studied the issues that the industry itself identified as blockages to development. And we carefully considered areas where the government could actively participate in collective solutions to assist the sector to meet its potential of one day being this country's largest export earner.

"This is the government that has met the challenge of investing $30 million per year in strategic roading identified as necessary to the industry's development. This is the coalition government that has invested $2 million in setting up a Centre of Excellence for Wood Processing in Rotorua and is committed to investment in the training and education of young adults for the wood industry which is so valuable to its future," he said.

Jim Anderton said everyone in the industry agrees that New Zealand's future prosperity can't be secured by competing on low costs and low wages alone.

"Our challenge as a nation is to make the investments in skills, infrastructure and equipment that will permit us to raise the proportion of high quality goods and services that we manufacture and export. There are complementary roles for industry sectors, individual businesses and the government to achieve these objectives. I believe we are on the right track and most industry leaders I speak to regularly think so too," he said.

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