A range of indicators out recently show our management of the economy is delivering results for New Zealanders and their families. Figures just released show our annual growth rate of 3.6 per cent is now the third highest in the developed world and we also have the second highest employment rate. Our growth rate is three times that of the United States’ 1.2 per cent and compares with 3.3 per cent in Australia, 2.2 per cent in the United Kingdom, and 0.8 per cent in Japan. Our economy is being supported by a thriving construction and tourism industry. New Zealand is currently in the middle of the biggest building boom it’s ever seen and we have welcomed a record 3.4 million visitors to our….. country over the past year. That strong economic growth is helping to deliver more jobs. New Zealand job advertising website SEEK reports shows job ads are up 9.9 per cent on a year ago. The ANZ’s Job Ads report tells a similar story with an increase of 12.1 over the past year. Businesses are investing, exports are up, interest rates are down, and the outlook for economic growth remains solid, with growth of an average 3 per cent forecast through to 2020. Official statistics show that more than 250,000 jobs have been created over the past three years. The average annual wage is now over $58,000 – up 25 per cent since 2008, more than double the rate of inflation.
New Zealanders are also enjoying near record low mortgage rates. That means a family with a $300,000 floating-rate mortgage is now paying around $300 a week less in interest than when we were elected. The economy remains front and centre of the National-led Government’s busy work programme and we will continue to work hard to build a more competitive and productive economy. Last week, I was in New York to attend the annual UN Leaders’ Week. While I was there I used the opportunity to engage with other world leaders on a number of key issues, including trade. I had the opportunity to reinforce the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which will help liberalise trade and investment between 12 Pacific-rim countries.
The TPP will provide better access for our goods and services to more than 800 million people across the 12 countries, which make up 36 per cent of global GDP. For New Zealand, the TPP is expected to boost our economy by at least $2.7 billion a year by 2030. During my trip, I also chaired a high-level meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the pressing issue of the Syrian conflict, where I urged members to show greater leadership. This is the most devastating crisis of our time and no other issue more urgently demands the attention of world leaders than the need to end the conflict. More action needs to be taken to help set Syria on a path to peace and I am hopeful progress can be made.