Primary sector exports and jobs up again

  • Hon Grant Robertson
  • Hon Damien O’Connor
Agriculture Finance

Primary sector exports and jobs are up again, demonstrating the sector’s underlying strength amid the COVID-19 global pandemic and US-China trade war, and supporting New Zealand’s economic recovery.

Stats NZ today reported New Zealand’s merchandise exports in August were up 8.6% on a year ago, driven by an increase in the value of our fruit which is up 28.2% with gold kiwifruit up 48%, wine up 17.9%, and dairy products up 10.2%.

“Our farmers and growers are supporting our economic recovery by earning top dollar based on a reputation of sustainable food production. The smart thing to do is to keep supporting this success,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.

“Our focus on jobs over the past three years also showed through, with Stats NZ also reporting today that the number of filled jobs across our primary industries reached 99,920 in August, up by 8,720 or 9.6% from a year ago.

“We’re making sure people have the skills that businesses and sectors require through initiatives like free apprenticeships. We’re also backing our farmers and growers by positioning New Zealand globally, including doing the work to secure free trade deals with economies like the UK and EU.”

“The Government is also working in partnership with the primary sector to support their environmental credentials which helps us stay ahead of the curve internationally,” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

“This week we made a range of immigration policy changes to ensure the sector has the workforce it needs as summer approaches and extra jobs come up on farms and in orchards.

“People in New Zealand with expiring working holiday visas can now stay to fill short-term horticulture and viticulture roles, with Supplementary Seasonal Employment visas being automatically given to around 11,000 people holding working holiday visas that expire between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021.

“The Government has also made border entry exceptions for up to 30 veterinarians, 570 deep sea fishing crew, and 210 agricultural and horticultural mobile plant operators. These people will still have to undertake managed isolation.

“The Government will continue to actively manage these policy settings to make sure industries get the workers they need, while also ensuring New Zealanders who have lost jobs due to COVID-19 have the chance to find new employment,” Damien O’Connor said.

Across the whole year to August, against the backdrop of a global pandemic and the US-China trade war, all exports have grown by 2.8%, with milk power, butter and cheese exports up 11.1%, meat exports up 9.9%, wine exports up 8.5%, fruit exports up 8.4% and vegetables exports up 6.3%.