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Anderton, forest sector launch FIDA

Anderton, forest sector launch FIDA to add value to exports

The coalition government and key leaders in the forest industry met today and agreed to accelerate their work together under a new relationship to promote the development of the forest industry, Forestry Minister Jim Anderton said today.

"The Forest Industry Development Agenda had its inaugural meeting today, and I am very proud with the progress it has already made.

"FIDA provides a means for the central government and the industry to develop a strategic approach for the industry’s future growth.

It will see the Labour-Progressive government invest $18.1 million (GST excl) to develop the industry, matched with a further $3.8 million (GST excl) contribution expected from industry.

Today's investment has been appropriated in the Labour-Progressive government's budget process and follows last week's announcement by Jim Anderton that Budget 2005 will include an investment of $2.0 million (GST excl) over the next five financial years to help promote excellence in wood design in the construction sector.

"Forestry is a very important industry for New Zealand. It has long been a major export earner – New Zealand's third largest in terms of the contribution to our merchandise exports – and employer in regions. It has the potential to become even more important economically and socially," the Progressive leader said.

Jim Anderton, who is also Minister for Economic, Industry and Regional Development, said forestry is becoming increasingly recognised as a key contributor to enhancing the natural environment via protecting soils, water and climate change.

"This government is very interested in seeing this important industry reach its true potential, and the FIDA is a key step in making sure this happens.

"The forest industry has been going through challenging international market conditions over the last few years. In particular, the value of the U.S. dollar has collapsed which lowers the returns of New Zealand-based exporters, while international shipping rate increases have also put our industry under pressure.

"But, it is important to see the forest for the trees and keep a longer-term perspective.

"Forestry has a bright future in New Zealand, as significant recent announcements of new investment in wood processing attest.

"While securing this future is not without its challenges and probably some causalities along the way, the partnership approach both across industry and between industry and government agencies has a positive role to play in ensuring we get the most value out of our competitive advantages as an economy.

"To thrive, we need to ensure New Zealand has a highly efficient, market-led industry. Effective and efficient government regulation is part of the equation, as are well-targeted transformational initiatives such as those proposed under the FIDA in areas such as market development, market access, excellence in wood design, labour, skills and bio-energy.

"As well as implementing a range of practical programmes funded under the FIDA, the new engagement will provide also the forest industry and Government to jointly:

Identify and develop strategies to address emerging strategic issues affecting the industry’s development; Enhance collaboration within and between industry and government agencies; and Improve efficiency and effectiveness of government policies, regulations and programmes.

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