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Goff: New Thinking Agritech award winner announced

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade

15 June 2006

Speech Notes

First New Zealand New Thinking Agritech award winner announced
Address to Agritech Incorporated Dinner

Thank you for inviting me to the New Zealand Agritech Incorporated dinner. I welcome the opportunity to acknowledge the important part your industry plays in our economy.

More than 150 years of experience in genetically improving animals and plants has helped New Zealand become one of the world’s most efficient agricultural economies. The knowledge gained as a world leader in agricultural primary production has combined well with a tradition of scientific research excellence.This has made the agritech sector a natural showpiece for our country’s “New Zealand New Thinking” brand.

The key goal of “New Zealand New Thinking” is to make sure our country is recognised globally for the value its businesses and people bring to the world through creativity, innovation and technology – all of which are traits displayed in your industry. The agritech sector has successfully supported agricultural farming in New Zealand and now has exports of about $700 million annually. Ingenuity and innovation have been hallmarks of our farming sector.

Over the years a wide range of agritech products have been developed and manufactured for domestic and international markets. The industry has shown a high degree of innovation in product development in the past such as Gallagher with the electric fence and Tru-Test with the milk meter and the leading companies are continuing to invest in research and development. You have also shown innovation in the management of export operations, working with limited resources across many markets to build effective marketing and distribution networks.

The government has long supported the agritech industry. The former Trade New Zealand initiated and supported the founding of NZ Agritech, an industry group of agricultural technology companies. Today the government’s economic development agency New Zealand Trade and Enterprise works closely with New Zealand Agritech and its members , for example, by bringing buyers and visiting media to events such as these. Through seminars and publications prepared by New Zealand Agritech, it also promotes the better use of out-sourced research and development capability building to New Zealand companies.

NZTE is supporting trade fair participation in established markets such as North America, Continental Europe, and the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is also acting as a catalyst in the pioneering markets of South America and China and providing support through staff in these markets. The Dairy Project Office which has been established in Guangzhou, China is one example.

By collaborating, agritech companies have been able to succeed in markets they might not have been able to conquer alone. The government, through New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, wants to continue supporting the growth of the first suite of internationally successful core biotech & agritech companies.

NZTE aims to reinforce New Zealand’s international profile as a smart place to conduct biotechnology and agritech business, and continue to stimulate the flow of investment in the sector.

This year NZTE is implementing a number of projects.

- It will be encouraging the design, development, and uptake of traceability systems for the agritech sector. The Farmgate project aims to develop and demonstrate an integrated ICT farm management system on a high yielding, combined sheep, beef and deer property.

- It will be helping New Zealand farming technologies export into China through its China Agritech project. A number of New Zealand companies have appointed distributors and achieved sales to China in the past year. Through its staff and contacts in China, NZTE is passing on key market intelligence and business opportunities to New Zealand agritech companies.

- Similarly, it will be expanding and strengthening the presence of New Zealand as a preferred partner and leading supplier of equipment, services and technology to all stages of the food value chain in South America as a priority.

- On that front, my colleague Jim Sutton, last month led a successful business Mission to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.

South America is one of the last ‘pioneering’ markets for New Zealand agritech exporters. While some New Zealand companies have been exporting to South America for decades, and I know they are represented here tonight, it is still a market where most New Zealand companies have yet to progress beyond a toe-hold.

Today the prospects and opportunities for agritech look brighter than they have for many years. There is an orientation towards the New Zealand pasture-grazing model and away from the North America cut and carry and all which that entails.

New Zealand has entered into the P4 free trade agreement with Chile which will give New Zealand even greater access to that growing market. The Brazilian market is stable and growing, and has an export orientation that offers New Zealand companies the opportunity to grow with the market.

The New Zealand companies that accompanied Jim Sutton were excited by the prospects, both of making sales and also of investing in South America to take advantage of their favourable FDI regimes.

NZTE is promoting a move ‘beyond exporting’ through encouraging companies to move into in- market joint ventures, manufacturing under licence or establishing a physical presence with a sales or distribution function as a means of gaining greater access to the markets and of capturing more of the margins. Traditionally New Zealand companies have lost these as they have little control of products once they’ve been loaded onto the ship or airplane.

NZTE has a programme of initiatives planned for the coming years to capture more of the opportunities.

- It will seek to match New Zealand companies to South American partners, particularly those that are vertically integrated from food production through to food processing, distribution, and retail.

- It will establish a facility to showcase New Zealand products and services in the dairying region around Osorno, Chile

- It will participate in trade fairs, including seminars on New Zealand farming practices.

- It will bring buyers and media to New Zealand.

NZTE will be working closely with New Zealand Agritech in the coming months to best shape the strategy to suit both.

The New Zealand Government’s top trading priority is to see a successful outcome to the WTO’s current Doha Round of negotiations. There are some things – like negotiating deep cuts in agricultural subsidies – that can only be done in a multilateral forum.

New Zealand is working hard with other countries to get ambitious liberalisation across the board – including in agriculture, manufactures and services. Reform in these areas has the potential to stimulate trade growth and reduce global poverty. That’s why it’s vital this Round succeeds. The window of opportunity is narrow - and some tough political decisions are needed - but we must persevere.

Through our Chair of the Agricultural Negotiating Committee , Crawford Falconer, our officials and efforts at a Ministerial level, we will be working hard over the next couple of months to try and secure a positive outcome. We are also of course working bilaterally to achieve better trade opportunities, including the bilateral with China, our biggest yet, and so far good progress has been made.

Raising global recognition of New Zealand’s competitive edge through the New Zealand New Thinking brand will benefit every New Zealander by increasing opportunities for international trade and economic growth, securing foreign investment and enhancing New Zealand’s attractiveness for skilled or business migrants.

It is an honour to congratulate and to present the first New Zealand New Thinking awards for innovation in product or service. These awards are a wonderful way of showcasing the innovation and export success which New Zealand agritech businesses are achieving. I would like to congratulate the runners up Zee tags/Genemark for their DNA punch.

And the winner of this first New Zealand New Thinking award is Sensortec for the world’s first online sensor for measuring somatic cell count in milk – direct from the milking shed.

Thank you very much


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