New Zealand Well Placed To Generate Continued Export Growth

  • Lockwood Smith

Trade Minister Lockwood Smith has welcomed merchandise trade statistics released today which show that New Zealand's exports to the year ended March 1999 have experienced growth in the face of a difficult international trading environment.

"Over the past couple of years New Zealand's exporters have been saddled with a combination of depressed demand in key markets, a challenging international economic environment and a severe drought," said Dr Smith.

"Fifteen years ago this scenario would have seriously reduced New Zealand's total merchandise exports. But what we're seeing instead is that New Zealand's exports have remained competitive in international markets, and we're well placed to grow our trade in key markets as global conditions improve.

"This has only been possible because of the Government's commitment to deliver a low-cost, low-tax economic framework at home that has allowed our export sector to act with certainty and take advantage of opportunities in alternative markets.

"Today's statistics also show that exports of milk powder, butter and cheese, which together make up more than ten percent of our merchandise trade exports, have eased over the past two quarters. I'm advised by the New Zealand Dairy Board that the decline illustrates the effects of the drought and depressed global commodity prices. Obviously, as conditions for the dairy industry improve, this will be reflected by an improvement in our merchandise trade balance.

"There is a clear message in today's trade statistics. New Zealand exporters have done a great job over the past couple of years in a difficult trading environment, and with our sound economic framework, we're well placed to generate ongoing export growth as global conditions improve," concluded Dr Smith.