Cluster policies help international trade

The Government should be congratulated on pulling together all its plans for the export sector into one document and for setting the country a stretch goal of increasing exports to 40% of GDP by 2025.

We get a lot of feedback from exporters saying they would like to know what the plan is and how we are going to get there.

This document is a good summary of all the work that is going on to support the export sector.

The question will be whether there are enough new ideas that are over and above ‘business as usual’ to help exporters reach that target.

The high New Zealand dollar is a challenge for exporters.

We hope that the Government’s new investment in R & D assistance for industry in the form of the ‘Advanced Technology Institute’ will help exporters move faster up the value and innovation ladder.

This will insulate them from having to compete on price against lower cost countries.

Others ideas that we believe worth exploring are development of cluster policies, which are common in Europe and around the world to better leverage the business ecosystem where comparative advantages exist.

We are keen on policies that can help our small to medium sized companies get better leverage in big markets, such as collaborating onshore to compete offshore.

The development of our mineral sector could make a big difference to our exports, as adding water in areas of high agricultural potential.

Exporters also tell us they would like more in-market assistance, which could be an area of increased investment in future budget rounds.

This could spread the good work that New Zealand Trade & Enterprise does to a larger pool of exporters.

Another area of potential we need to tap into in a smarter way is using our Government procurement spend with local companies to develop new technologies that have export potential around the world.

ExportNZ will be releasing its own report soon to flesh out some of these ideas.

Catherine Beard is Executive Director of ExportNZ based in Wellington.

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