The New Zealand Chamber of Commerce wants the incoming government to join forces with the private sector to design and launch a radical shake up of approach and resolve to improve New Zealand’s export performance.
“We need a campaign to maximize the benefits of the many Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) we have,” said Michael Barnett, spokesman for the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce.
“We have been successful at being first to negotiate an FTA with a number of countries. It is time to be ambitious to deepen and widen the spread of businesses that are benefitting from these agreements.
Despite these agreements, exporting continues to be concentrated on commodity agriculture, with Fonterra the standout. We only have around 750 globally capable and competitive businesses. Yet New Zealand has many innovative and creative businesses with the potential to be successful global players.
“We need to focus on the many innovative medium-sized businesses with a campaign targeting niche markets in the big countries of opportunity coupled with a retraining package to upskill their marketing capability,” said Mr Barnett.
“It is time to offer incentives to get more middle sized companies into exporting, including practical help to tap into offshore networks and opportunities.”
Building a large tier of global businesses is the only way New Zealand is going to lift overall living standards and provide increased job opportunities that are attractive to skilled and capable young New Zealanders.
The traditional focus of increasing the exports of conventional merchandise goods needs to shift up the value added chain to high-tech, knowledge-based products, the export of services and the returns from outward direct overseas investment.
“We believe the best way to improve New Zealand’s export performance is for the incoming government to establish an innovation-focused government-business partnership tasked to lead a campaign to sell more to the world,” concluded Mr Barnett.