South America: Compete Or Co-operate?

  • Maurice Williamson
Research, Science and Technology

"New Zealand businesses interested in entering the South American market with technology-based products and services should get involved soon, if they want to capitalise on the region's long-term expansion," says Minister of Research, Science and Technology, Hon Maurice Williamson.

Mr Williamson has just returned from leading an official visit of New Zealand business, technology and science experts to Brazil, Argentina and Chile and was speaking at a presentation to the Latin America New Zealand Business Council in Wellington tonight.

"These countries, with their competitive cost advantage introduction volume capacity, are gearing up to become a major force in global markets, the Minister said.

"Eventually the region could become a significant competitor to New Zealand's exporters. There is still time however for New Zealand businesses to help the region build a competitive infrastructure - given the size of the region, cooperation would seem to be the best approach.

"Chances are, New Zealand business will find greater returns in contributing to South America's economic development, rather than attempting to fight it head-on in world markets.

"The greatest potential is in pastoral agriculture, food technology and engineering, biodiversity, pharmaceutical's, and forestry technologies. The new business and investment opportunities in South America will include a strong technology focus.

"South America is undergoing major infrastructural and regional development. Its resource potential includes plantation forestry in Argentina and Chile; and tropical fruit production, nutriceuticals from forest species and plantation foresty in Brazil. Food technology has major potential for all markets.

"It will be fairly difficult for New Zealand companies to compete in production against these countries. The best opportunities currently exist in investing there, through expertise and technologies.

"Various industrial groups are jointly making concerted efforts towards the South American market by adopting a unified approach.

"The Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, which coordinated the visit, will work with other agencies to help them raise the profile of New Zealand in the South American region and develop relationships and networks and a coherent strategy, creating both short and long-term opportunities for New Zealand's business and science sectors," Mr Williamson said.