An open, confident country

Column Articles
Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Looking ahead New Zealand remains well placed to build on the progress we’ve all made in recent years.

While there are still global risks such as a slowdown in China and lower commodity prices, it’s important we don’t talk ourselves down. That’s why the Government remains busy and focused on the issues that matter to New Zealanders.

The Government, like New Zealand businesses and households, tightened its belt, turning an $18.4 billion deficit in 2011 into a surplus last year. We’re keeping a tight rein on spending. We’re focused on delivering better public services in the likes of health, education, welfare, and law and order. And we’re continuing to support businesses through our Business Growth Agenda.

New Zealand recorded 2.3 per cent economic growth in 2015, and growth is expected to average more than 3 per cent over 2016 and 2017. The Bay of Plenty is well ahead of the curve with our annual economic growth rate strengthening to 5.9% which is the highest in the country.

Tourism is directly contributing $10.6 billion to the economy. In our region guest nights from visitors are at record highs. International education is now worth $2.85 billion, supporting more than 30,000 Kiwi jobs.

The success of our businesses is benefiting New Zealand families. Wages increased 3.1 per cent on average in the last year, significantly higher than 0.1 per cent inflation, and they are expected to top $63,000 by 2020. We have just announced an increase in the minimum wage that will see approximately $75 million a year added to wages throughout the economy.

The labour market in our region is supported by the strong economy. In the past three years 175,000 more jobs have been created and an additional 173,000 jobs are expected by 2020. Increases in employment in our region are above the national average and our unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in the past year.

We’re looking to future opportunities to diversify the economy – the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement which will give us better access to 800 million customers in 11 countries that account for 36 per cent of the global economy. On current trade volumes, TPP will provide around $274 million a year in tariff savings and by 2030 is forecast to add $2.7 billion to the New Zealand economy. The value of this agreement for our kiwifruit industry is significant and will deliver real additional returns of $15 million per year from reduced tariffs equating to over $6000 per year for each grower, which in turn will flow through our towns and communities.

We are an open and confident country that backs itself on the world stage.  The National-led Government is supporting New Zealand businesses and households to take advantage of the many opportunities ahead.