The Chamber of Commerce is calling for the incoming government to rethink its approach to exports, joining forces with the private sector to campaign to sell more to the rest of the world.
“We need a campaign to maximise the benefits of the many free trade agreements we have,” said spokesman Michael Barnett.
He said the traditional focus of increasing exports of conventional merchandise goods needed to shift up the value chain to high-tech, knowledge-based products, the export of services and the returns from outward direct overseas investment.
“We believe the best way to improve New Zealand’s export performance is for the incoming government to establish an innovation-focused government-business partnership tasked to lead a campaign to sell more to the world."
The chamber says while exporting continues to be concentrated on commodity agriculture, New Zealand has many innovative and creative businesses with the potential to be successful global players.
“We need to focus on the many innovative medium-sized businesses with a campaign targeting niche markets in the big countries of opportunity coupled with a retraining package to upskill their marketing capability,” said Barnett.
“It is time to offer incentives to get more middle-sized companies into exporting, including practical help to tap into offshore networks and opportunities.”
Executive director of ExportNZ Catherine Beard said all political parties should have proactive policies in place supportive of exporting.
NZTE and the new Ministry of Science and Innovation were increasingly focused on backing high added-value firms with a goal to help them double in size, she said.
ExportNZ's recently released manifesto calls for continuing with the free trade agenda, in particular a regional free trade agreement like the Trans Pacific Partnership, and an FTA with India.