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Debate Of Economic Issues In New Zealand


Cabinet Members And Senior Executives Debate Economic Issues In New Zealand

At a time of low business and consumer confidence, and controversial government policy changes, a high-powered line-up of Ministers and senior executives are coming together to debate the issues in Wellington next month.

The Economist Conferences will host its Second Roundtable with the Government of New Zealand, bringing leading ministers, Members of Parliament and senior executives together for a two-day debate on new policy direction and the implications for businesses and the economy.

Sir Frank Holmes, Chairman of Hugo Group Limited which is co- ordinating the event in New Zealand, said that the Roundtable will give senior executives an opportunity to discuss with both Government and Opposition leaders whether the new Government's more active intervention in the economy and its efforts to "close the gaps" in income and social wellbeing will benefit or harm business and the economy.

"The Government says that it recognises the need for continued business development as a basis for social improvement," Sir Frank said. "It also claims that proposed changes in industrial relations policy are bringing New Zealand more into line with International Labour Organisation conventions and European practice.

"However, many in business have been concerned at the effects of its policy changes on their costs and capacity to compete," Sir Frank said.

Prime Minister Helen Clark will participate in the conference, and will be joined by Jim Anderton, Michael Cullen, Steve Maharey, Pete Hodgson, Trevor Mallard, Jim Sutton, Margaret Wilson, Paul Swain and Mark Burton. Ms Clark and her ministers expected to discuss their stance on international trade and foreign investment, their commitment to a higher level of research and development spending, new ventures and exports and their aims for a high value-added, high wage economy backed with greater social cohesion.

Also confirmed to contribute are leaders from the National Party, the Greens and ACT.

"The conference comes soon after the budget and at a time when ministers will have settled into their portfolios with their priorities established. It is an ideal time to assess the early initiatives and future course of the new government and the effects it will have on our businesses," Sir Frank said.

Panelists at the conference will address key questions regarding concerns to investors, including: * How will new policy create opportunities for new economy businesses? * Will increased expenditure on research and development lead to business gains? * How will the tax structure review affect you? * What will the amendments to competition law mean for your company? * How can you be involved in the realigned focus to drive business growth? * What are the implications of the government's commitment to `fair' free trade? * Are there opportunities in the government's determination to accentuate environmental concerns?

Participants will be seeking to determine whether New Zealand will provide a business environment, regulatory regime and political leadership that is capable of responding to changes in global markets and to answer the question, should we invest in New Zealand? The first New Zealand Government Roundtable held by The Economist Conferences was in 1995.

The conference will be held on August 10th-11th at the Park Royal, Wellington. **********




Note to editors: This event is open both days to the media. For further information contact Shan Davis on 852-2585-3824 or The Economist Conferences, a division of The Economist Enterprises, is the leading organiser of face-to-face dialogues between government officials and senior executives in the world's developed and emerging markets.

With Asian headquarters in Hong Kong, the company has offices and associates in over 20 countries throughout Asia, the Americas and Europe. The Economist Conferences provides forums for senior government officials and key regional business executives to discuss a country's economic, political and business operations environment and in an interactive format.

This year's Roundtable sponsors include: Deutsche Bank, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Air New Zealand and Equant.


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