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Clark: Address at ANZ Wellington Export Awards

Address at ANZ Wellington Export Awards

Tonight we focus on the export-oriented sectors which are so critical to our economy. We need more go ahead Kiwi businesses like those we congratulate tonight, finding high value niches in global markets. That's critical to the ongoing transformation of our economy and to guaranteeing our future prosperity.

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It's good to be celebrating Wellington's export success at tonight's awards ceremony. These awards, together with the successful Wellington Region Gold Awards of three weeks ago, profile the region's economy and business high fliers.

Wellington is known for its dynamic business culture. That's driven by ideas and talented people who turn their dreams into commercial success. It's important to celebrate all they are achieving for Wellington and for New Zealand.

Tonight we focus on the export-oriented sectors which are so critical to our economy. We need more go ahead Kiwi businesses like those we congratulate tonight, finding high value niches in global markets. That's critical to the ongoing transformation of our economy and to guaranteeing our future prosperity.

The high Kiwi dollar over recent years hasn't made life easy for exporters - and that's been reflected in their returns and in the current account deficit.

However, the correction of the dollar which has occurred has already brought relief to many, and is beginning to show up in trade figures.

The value of Kiwi exports increased in both March and April 2006, and there was an unexpected trade surplus recorded in April. While volumes increased, particularly in dairy exports, the exchange rate will have helped too.

Next year, 2007, has been designated as New Zealand Export Year, and government does want to work closely with business stakeholders to ensure the Year's success. We are refocusing our economic development spending on innovation and export potential this year.

In the May budget, $64 million were re-allocated into market development assistance for exporters.

Eligibility for the programme was widened, opening it up to companies with an annual turnover of up to $50 million. Grants can now be made for up to fifty per cent of a market development project, up to a maximum of half a million dollars over a number of years.

These changes have been made to support the development of more companies of scale exporting high value goods and services to the world.

It's well known that the cost of assuring the security of New Zealand's export goods has risen with the tighter international security measures since September 2001. For that reason, government has agreed to continue to fund a significant part of the extra cost for a further two financial years to allow exporters more time to make the transition to meeting those costs.

Greater export success will come from NZ Inc working together, - across our regions and business sectors, and across government and non-government organisations

Here in Wellington we have exporters who are innovators, not imitators, and are successfully differentiating their products in a way which is internationally appealing.

Take for example companies like Smarter than Jack an emerging exporter, which successfully entered the US market in 2005, and is now targeting Canada and the UK.

We see Metra Information, the international arm of the met service successfully selling its leading edge weather forecasting technology to destinations as diverse as the UK and the Middle East, and is now exploring entry into Spain.

Wellington-based companies like these are leading the way in the development of a new culture of enterprise and innovation in New Zealand, and that's what we need for further international success.

I congratulate all tonight's winners and finalists. May you inspire others to step up and step out to greater export success.


ENDS

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