Proud to be a Kiwi

PM column

It’s been great to see the success of our London 2012 Olympians, who are returning to New Zealand with a haul ofsix gold medals, two silver and five bronze. That places us fifteenth on the overall medal tally – a great effort for a nation of four and a half million people. On a per capita basis, New Zealand was placed fourth in the world.

Our athletes really lifted the country’s spirits with their outstanding performances, through the small….. hours of the morning,over 14 days. Back home we have just launched the first Business Growth Agenda progress report on our actions to boost New Zealand exports. We set a number of targets earlier in the year to support the growth of our export industry, as this is an important part of our plan to build a more competitive and productive economy. The Building Export Markets report confirms the Government’s target to increase the contribution of exports to the economy from 30 per cent to 40 per cent of GDP by 2025.

Increasing the ratio of exports to GDP to 40 per cent won’t be an easy task. And we’ll need investment in labour and skills to be able to shift with changing demand. It’s ambitious, but we’re ensuring businesses have access to the six key ingredients they need to grow, create jobs and be successful – access to markets, innovation, skills, capital markets, infrastructure, and resources. Working closely with industry to achieve best outcomes is important. These reports are a way of communicating to stakeholders – particularly the business community – what programmes the Government is working on. It’s also a way of seeking their feedback as to what to speed up, what to slow down, and what else needs doing. This week we also joined the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement, which will give New Zealand companies better access to more than US$1.6 trillion in overseas contracts.

And to support all of this we redeveloping a “New Zealand story,” to help exporters establish themselves overseas. New Zealand already has a great international reputation, but it could be clearer and it could be stronger. While New Zealand is strongly associated with our beautiful landscape, it would help our exporters if we were also recognised offshore for our other key attributes such as our high quality goods and services and our innovation and ideas. New Zealand has a great story to tell and I’m proud to tell it.