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Exporting manufacturers: Heroes of the economy

Tuesday, December 14th, 2004

Exporting manufacturers: Heroes of the economy

The remarkable performance by our exporters of manufactured goods this year deserves national recognition. If there was an award for the Heroes of the Economy, they would have to be the top contenders.

Bruce Goldsworthy, Manager of Advocacy Services for the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) said manufacturers grew their exports over the past year by 6.8 per cent to reach $12.5 billion though the exchange rate moved against them in US dollar terms about 10 per cent, while their price competitiveness in Australia was whittled back 7.25 per cent.

"Exports of manufactured goods to the US increased 6.05 per cent to $1,874 million (September year, excluding dairy, meat, seafood and wool) and to Australia by 4.72 per cent to reach $4,632 million," Mr Goldsworthy said.

"The heightened competitiveness demonstrated by our exporters, particularly exporters of elaborately transformed products, is the underlying reason for the economy's sustained buoyancy. It must raise questions over our official productivity figures.

"With the housing boom settling on a plateau, and immigration declining, exporting manufacturers are meeting the challenge to keep the economy growing.

"Exporters of agricultural commodities lifted earnings substantially during the year as well though they are dependent on world market pricing, and other factors over which they have no influence including the weather.

"Demand offshore for our manufactured exports is largely reliant on kiwi skills, innovation, design, marketing and technical know how.

"The fastest growing market for manufactures has been Thailand which rose 30.7 per cent (for the September year end) to $95.7 million. The FTA with Thailand just signed should see this trade expand further.

"In the same period exports of kiwi made elaborately transformed products to China rose seven per cent to $428.5 million.

"The fastest growing exports to China are surprisingly not milk powder or meat products. They include sawn timber and wood products (up 32.5 per cent to $97.3m), electrical equipment up 30 per cent to $21.5m), industrial machinery and equipment (up 218 per cent to $22.3m.) and electronic equipment (up 50 per cent to $10.3m.)

"Some fast growing, less familiar manufactured export categories worldwide (October year end) include architectural aluminium products (up 73 per cent to $18.9 m), professional and scientific instruments (up 38.7 per cent to $151.6m), agricultural machinery (up 30 per cent to $166.4 m), pumps & compressors (up 51 per cent to $53.9m), prefabricated buildings (up 98 per cent to $25m), sheet metal furniture (up 83 per cent to $33m), mechanical machinery (up 11.6 per cent to $1,542m), and electrical machinery (up 9.5 per cent to $998m). Wine exports were up 22 per cent to $371m."

ENDS

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