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Luxton Praises Agriculture's Growth Contribution

MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE USE
10 NOVEMBER 1999

LUXTON PRAISES AGRICULTURE'S CONTRIBUTION TO EXPORT GROWTH

Speaking from the Canterbury A&P Show, Food and Fibre Minister, Hon John Luxton, has praised the primary production sector as a key driver of the improved September quarter export statistics released today.

"Seasonally adjusted exports were 10.5% higher than the June quarter. The primary sector is playing its part in the improvement with much of the new exports coming from food and fibre. Seasonally-adjusted dairy exports rose 19.6% in the 3 month period, wool has recovered 20.4% and fish exports increased 16.6%. Wood product exports have also increased significantly.

"The key to improving the negative merchandise trade balance is not to restrict imports but to encourage exports. We need not fear increasing imports as long as our export growth picks up. Food and fibre exports are well placed to correct the imbalance.

"The Government has made reducing costs and providing new opportunities for exporters a priority over the last nine years and will continue to do so. Recent amendments to the legislation holding back our producer boards will further facilitate increased growth in agriculture exports.

"With agricultural commodity prices declining however we can not sit back if we want to increase the growth of our primary product exports. It is imperative we continue to use our expertise to add more value to these products.

"Coming on top of last week's announcement that 22,000 new jobs were created in the primary sector last year, the export statistics show once again that the food and fibre industries are the engine room of the economy and will continue to drive the economic recovery.

"Food and Fibre exports are 50% higher than they were in 1990. They have consistently measured around three-quarters of the country's total in recent years.

"While I welcome the growth in manufacturing and service sector exports - essential for a diversifying economy, our increasingly sophisticated agricultural sector has kept pace with this growth. New Zealand has a competitive advantage in agriculture which we ignore at our peril," Mr Luxton concluded.


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