Economy has solid momentum heading into 2019

  • Hon Grant Robertson

New Zealand’s economy is in good shape heading into 2019, with data showing annual GDP growth of 3%, strength in regional economic activity, and rising confidence among consumers and businesses, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.

“The Coalition Government’s economic plan is focussed on making sure the economy has the underlying fundamentals for more productive, sustainable and inclusive growth. We’re investing in infrastructure, research and development and regional economies to support businesses to grow and wages to rise,” Grant Robertson said.

“Figures out from the ANZ today show consumers are finishing the year more confident, mirroring Westpac’s consumer confidence survey earlier this week. Declines in the international oil price, low and steady interest rates and the stable housing market have all contributed. This is a positive development, especially for the busy retail sector over the holiday period.

“Stats NZ this week also reported annual GDP growth of 3% in the year to September 2018 on the back of good wholesale and retail trade growth, transport sector activity and professional and scientific services. This fits with the Treasury’s and other economists’ forecasts of 3% growth over the next couple of years, and represents solid underlying activity.

“While the volatile quarterly number was lower than expected due to temporary factors like the wind-down of major Kaikōura earthquake repair work and quarterly food manufacturing due to the international situation particularly in the dairy sector, there were positive signs of the underlying momentum.

“Independent economists said Stats NZ’s regular annual revision of the GDP numbers showed the economy has more momentum than previously thought, with annual growth around 3% a year. It’s also good to see strength in activity across the regions, as shown by the ASB’s regional scorecard.

“And, seeing as it’s Christmas, even the ANZ’s monthly business confidence survey – for what it’s worth – rose this week as investment and employment intentions rose. This fits with the BNZ’s recent business conditions survey showing a solid business environment at the end of 2018.

“While it’s good to see positive momentum locally, we are keeping a close eye on developments in the international economy like the US-China trade dispute and Brexit. The Treasury has noted that the biggest risk facing the New Zealand economy is the international situation. The Coalition Government is running surpluses and keeping debt under control so that we remain in a good position to deal with any international volatility,” Grant Robertson said.