The importance of the natural resources sector to New Zealand’s regional economies is highlighted in the 2014 Regional Economic Activity Report, released by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.
The report, produced by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, brings together comprehensive economic data on New Zealand’s 16 regions in one place. It also identifies specific initiatives under way in each region through the Government’s Business Growth Agenda. It is the second report in an annual series.
“The 2014 Regional Economic Activity Report highlights the diversity of our regions, with each making a different contribution to the national economy,” Mr Joyce says. “It also shows examples of both larger urban centres and smaller rural economies that are doing well.
“The report shows that the natural resource industries are the foundation for economic activity in most of our regional economies. What is clear is that policymakers at all levels need to be careful about policy changes that would hurt these sectors and impact on jobs and growth in regional New Zealand.
This is a very deliberate shot across the bows of opposition parties which are anti-farming, anti-resource extraction and anti-development.
“Over the last decade, agricultural regions have benefited from rising commodity prices for dairy products and, more recently, meat. However, signs of recovery from the Global Financial Crisis are obvious across the board, with employment numbers increasing in all regions over the last year.
“The report highlights the strengths and challenges each region faces and the opportunities they have to further contribute to New Zealand’s economic growth. It is a useful tool to support planning at all levels and I expect it to encourage public debate about how each region can be more successful.”
This year’s Regional Economic Activity Report includes for the first time the official measure of regional gross domestic product, more comprehensive figures on employment and incomes, and new sections on population and Māori economic development.
To complement the report, an interactive website has been developed that contains information on 66 sub-regional areas. This finer detail is available online or can be accessed on the go, through a download for tablets.
To further support economic growth, the Government is also working with local stakeholders on a series of more in-depth studies on the East Coast, Northland, Manawatu-Wanganui and Bay of Plenty regions. These will provide a more detailed assessment of the particular strengths and challenges that these regions face and how their economies can be developed.
“Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth and investment,” says Mr Joyce. “For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need all of our regions to achieve to their potential.
“Each region has advantages which it can build upon and diversify from. The problem is not a lack of opportunities – it’s how we continue to do better at creating wealth and jobs from the opportunities we have.”
You can access the full report here.
The housing crisis is one of the issues de jour although it isn’t a problem in most of the country.
Recognising the strengths of the regions and realising their potential would bring economic and social benefits for them and could take some of the pressure off housing demand and other population pressures in Auckland and Christchurch.