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Navigating growth: doubling exports and shaping the future of the Waikato

In its quest to rebuild the New Zealand economy, the Government has set an ambitious target: to double the value of our exports within the next decade. This forward-looking vision is underpinned by plans to promote New Zealand exports and dismantle the trade barriers that currently hinder the global reach of our products, goods and services.

The Waikato region is one of the most productive in New Zealand. Not only is it in a prime location, but it also sports a diverse economy that is a springboard for innovation and industry and our primary sector contributes almost seven-hundred-million dollars to international exports.

Despite having significant growth potential, the primary sector faces immediate challenges in navigating a landscape where production costs are high and projected to remain so for the next one to two years. The economic reality adds complexity, as reflected in the results of Te Waka’s Waikato Business Sentiment Survey, which revealed that the primary industries of agriculture, forestry and fishing had the lowest net confidence in their own businesses and were most likely to have experienced a profit decrease in the last 12 months. 

However, within challenge lies opportunity. Ensuring our efforts are aligned and fostering collaboration will be paramount – for example, to identify where cost efficiencies can be realised, and supply chains can be optimised.

At Te Waka, we gain invaluable firsthand insights by engaging with the people on the ground in various sectors. This, sharing of these insights with policy and decisionmakers, will be key to achieving the Government’s ambitious export target.

Alongside agriculture, we’re focused on the potential of the region’s sustainable aquaculture industry. The Waikato boasts flourishing greenshell mussel and Pacific oyster farms, offering a lifeline to our coastal towns. However, regulatory obstacles impede their full potential. Seafood stands out as high value and low impact, an important asset as the nation transitions to a low-emissions economy. This industry holds the promise of contributing to economic growth and creating job opportunities.

While economic growth will propel New Zealand forward, a balance must be struck to ensure our economic growth aligns with broader societal needs. Continued investments in healthcare, education and infrastructure are essential to accommodate the growing population and maintain the wellbeing of the community. As the economic engine revs up, it’s crucial not to lose sight of the interconnectedness between economic development and social progress.

The Waikato exemplifies resilience, innovation, and a commitment to sustainable growth. By harnessing opportunities, fostering collaboration, and staying attuned to the region's unique strengths, the Waikato is poised to shape its future in tandem with the ambitious goals set for New Zealand's economic resurgence. These new export value targets will bring economic growth, job opportunities, and global exposure for the Waikato region.

As we gear up to achieve this goal, we’re focused on continuing to build a shared understanding of challenges and opportunities to ensure those in the primary sector have the frameworks and resources they need to be able to continue supplying high-quality food and fibre to New Zealand and the world.

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