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Cosgrove’s speech to Canterbury Export Awards

29 July 2008 Speech

Clayton Cosgrove’s speech to the Canterbury Export Awards 2008

Venue: Christchurch Convention Centre, Christchurch
Time: 7.30pm, 29 July 2008

Mayor Bob Parker and Mayoress Joanna Parker; Hon Ruth Richardson; Bob Walters, Chief Executive Officer of Export New Zealand; Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce President David Halstead and Chief Executive Peter Townsend; John Payne, President for the Canterbury Region of Export New Zealand; Maurice Noone Office Managing Partner, PriceWaterhouseCooper; my Parliamentary colleagues; members of the Canterbury business community; special guests; ladies and gentlemen.

Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to speak at this year’s Canterbury Export Awards ceremony. It is always encouraging to see New Zealand businesses achieving success in the global marketplace.

Last year, my colleague Trade Minister Phil Goff spoke about Export Year 2007.
As a joint initiative between the Government and the private sector, it provided an important focus on exporting and the challenges that New Zealand faces.

The work continues for both government and business to build our economy into one that can successfully compete with the rest of the world.

The passing of the New Zealand China Free Trade Agreement in Parliament last week was an important development. China is the fastest growing major economy in the world, currently growing at 9.5 percent each year. China is already our third largest trading partner. Its middle class is now estimated to be more than 100 million people and growing – which will fuel the demand for New Zealand’s exports of goods and services. There should also be opportunities for investment in both directions.

Chinese tariffs on New Zealand products cost exporters almost $120 million each year. The Agreement will remove tariffs on 96 percent of New Zealand’s current exports to China and will deliver significant gains for our exporters. The removal of the remaining New Zealand tariffs on Chinese imports will be done in such a way as to allow New Zealand industry time to adapt.

The removal of Chinese tariffs under the Agreement are expected to result in a far greater increase in New Zealand exports to China than Chinese exports to New Zealand, in significant part because Chinese tariff levels are currently higher than those of New Zealand.

The Agreement also promotes co-operation in a broad range of areas, including intellectual property. It provides a platform for further engagement at the governmental, cultural, and people-to-people levels.

As Minister for Small Business, I am pleased to say that the China Free Trade Agreement holds huge potential for all New Zealand businesses, including our small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs). In fact that the China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) contains a whole section (Article 176) in which the New Zealand and the Chinese governments have committed themselves to undertake a range of activities designed to promote a favourable trading environment specifically for the development of SMEs and to build the capacity of SMEs to trade effectively under the FTA. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is co-ordinating the government initiatives in this area.

Some of you here tonight will have participated in the recent FTA road show.

The Navigating China website is also a fantastic resource. The China FTA is part of a wider focus for the government on Asia, which includes the expansion of the Beachheads programme in China, the opening of up to five more offices in China over the next four years, a greater New Zealand presence at trade shows like Food and Hotel Asia, and a commitment to a concept centre in Shanghai.

With the Shanghai Expo only two years away, there is further opportunity to strengthen New Zealand’s commitment to forming long term relationships in China.

New opportunities for free trade agreements are also being explored and progressed with Korea, Japan and India and they have gained some momentum from the success of completing the China FTA.

I am sure that many of you here tonight are looking at ways to seize the opportunity that these developments in Asia and in other markets will offer your businesses.

Free trade agreements are one part of the process of building our economy into one that can successfully compete with the rest of the world. New Zealand also needs to move beyond the traditional concept of simply ‘exporting’ and instead ‘think globally’ in all aspects of business – global customers, global competitors and global strategies.

It is great to see that many Canterbury firms are getting out there and seeing what opportunities the world has to offer them – a fact reflected in some recent statistics. For example, I see that the annual average growth rate in the value of exports conveyed abroad from Canterbury ports was a healthy 6.2 percent for the year ended April 2008. Similarly, the region’s economic growth figure of 2.6 percent for the year ended March was slightly faster than the 2.5 percent annual average growth rate across the country in the same period.

While we are experiencing some slowing in economic growth, it would seem that the Canterbury region is in reasonably good heart as, for the second year running, tonight’s awards have attracted a record number of entrants.

From emerging exporters through to more established global operators, they demonstrate the attitude and commitment to creating high-value products and services that businesses need to embrace in order to successfully compete internationally.

Agencies like New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, the government’s national economic development agency, are there to help you on the journey. It runs a number of business programmes and services that help businesses build up their capability and take on the world.

The Enterprise Development Grant for Market Development has proved popular with businesses wanting to attend international trade events or build up their in-market presence. Here in Canterbury about 130 companies have received Market Development funding since the scheme began.

Beachheads and Better by Design programmes are extremely useful to businesses looking to gain access to international networks or incorporate design principals into all facets of a business. Both these programmes have received an extra $8 million of funding for the next financial year.

Eight ambitious Christchurch companies from a range of sectors are already making the most of the Beachheads programme to help them accelerate their growth in markets as diverse as the Middle East and India. Well-known local businesses Jade Software and Bloomsberry are two Beachheads success stories. Most recently Brands International has been able to take advantage of tailored advice and assistance from UK retail distribution expert Mark West to grow their global business.

And of course, NZTE’s global network of highly skilled staff is there to help you find the people, knowledge and opportunities that will help you become successful international operators - helping New Zealand become more internationally competitive and raise our standards of living.

The exporters here tonight, and many others like them, make an immense contribution to New Zealand's economy. You are a positive part of the economic transformation that New Zealand needs.

Tonight we celebrate export successes that have already occurred. But the challenges that the finalists and winners have risen to are the challenge we need many more New Zealand businesses to take up to keep our country moving forward.

The efforts that you make and the inspiration you provide to others in the business community play an important part in New Zealand's long term economic success. I thank you for the part you play and I congratulate tonight’s winners, who fully deserve this public recognition.


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