Speech: Charles Finny To Turkish Delegation
Speech By Wellington Regional Chamber Of Commerce Ceo, Charles Finny To Turkish Business Delegation, 5 December 2005
Prime Ministers, Distinguished visitors from Turkey, ladies and gentlemen
Can I begin with a confession, Turkey is one of the few countries in the world I have yet to visit. My wife has visited and loves your country, and is constantly pressuring me to ensure that Turkey is our next holiday destination. I am therefore pleased to note that the next Conference of the International Chambers of Commerce is in Istanbul in 18 months time and I have already booked my tickets.
The Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce is delighted to be associated with this event. One of our key messages to our members is that they need to focus more heavily on exports, particularly on exports of higher value services, and to explore non-traditional markets for these services exports. As our exporters of earthquake related services are already proving, Turkey offers New Zealand professional service providers very good opportunities for trade.
We are today standing at the heart of New Zealand’s fastest growing and prosperous region. The immediate region grew by 3.9% over the last 12 months. Our wider region grew by over 4%. For the last quarter business activity in Wellington grew far more quickly than any other region in country.
Our immediate region now produces 14% of New Zealand’s GDP, if the Manawatu/Wanganui and Hawkes Bay regions are included we are over 20% of our GDP. The population of the wider region is around 600,000 – small by Turkish standards – but significant in the context of New Zealand.
As well as being New Zealand’s political capital we are the capital of the New Zealand services economy. Whereas nationally services account for 67% of GDP in Wellington that figure is 90%.
We are the capital of New Zealand’s movie industry, the home of Government, the home of two excellent universities, several technical institutes and four Government research institutes. Our goal at the Chamber of Commerce is to build on this existing infrastructure to establish Wellington as a global centre for research and design excellence. Coupled with our services ancillary to Government and our professional services we are very well placed to take full advantage of the opportunities created by technology and globalisation.
To deliver on our economic potential we need to export more, we need to become more productive, and we need to ensure much greater investment in key infrastructure. In this context can I do something that business groups do far too infrequently, and that is, on behalf of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce and New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry, say thank you Prime Minister Clark, and your Government for the emphasis you are placing on improving New Zealand’s productivity growth rate, and on greatly improving the amount of money that Government is making available to invest in roading. Your focus on the regulation surrounding access to broadband technology is also most welcome.
To our Turkish visitors can I say that I see immediate opportunities for you here in promoting tourism to your beautiful and fascinating country. We have one of the world’s most open markets, so your goods exporters should be looking at opportunities here closely.
We are also embarking on a range of major infrastructure investments – investments that are probably beyond the capability of New Zealand industry to service. Here can I mention specifically that in Wellington we have a port about to invest close to half a billion dollars on expansion, an airport that is investing over $200 million in expansion and we are upgrading our regional transport infrastructure by close to $2 billion over the next 20 years. What is happening here is being replicated in Auckland, in the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.
This investment and the work being done to lift productivity will, I believe allow us to take the growth in our economy to a new level. For Turkish investors I believe that New Zealand is a smart place to invest. And Prime Minister Clark can I say that the Government’s review of company tax rates is very well timed. Let’s be adventurous and let’s look at using this review as means by which we can take Australia head on in the international competition for investment. An eventual rate of 20 or 25% would really make international investors take notice.
Thank you again, and to our visitors, I hope our visit proves profitable.