21 Sep 2023

June quarter 2023 GDP result: Economy grew strongly in the three months ended June

11:50 am on 21 September 2023
Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson confirmed to reporters at the Beehive in Wellington that the opening match for the FIFA Women's World Cup would go ahead despite three people left dead after a shooting incident in the Auckland CBD on July 20, 2023.

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The economy has posted stronger than expected growth in the second quarter as service industries and manufacturing lifted activity.

Stats NZ said gross domestic product rose 0.9 percent in the three months ended June.

The previous quarter's GDP figure was revised to zero from the previous 0.1-percent fall.

That now means the economy was not in recession at the start of the year.

Service industries, which make up two thirds of the economy, generally drove the increase, although household spending was soft.

Manufacturing, utilities, and transport all increased.

The annual growth rate fell to 1.8 percent from 2.2 percent.

Labour Party finance spokesperson Grant Robertson said the GDP figures showed New Zealand's economy was resilient.

"I think that the New Zealand economy has got through a particularly tough time; there will be challenges ahead, but this does set us up well for the rest of the year," he said.

"This has been an incredibly tough time for businesses and households, we have turned a corner, in my opinion."

Robertson said although the revising of the previous quarter's numbers showed New Zealand had in fact avoided a "technical recession", none of that took away from how challenging recent years had been for households.

He said the government had tried, throughout those times, to "get the balance right" when it came to managing the country's economy.

"I've always felt that the New Zealand economy was resilient; we've had the tick of approval from the ratings agencies, who've had a look at what we're doing, and I think I know we're in a very political period at the moment, but these sort of statistics give me heart that we've genuinely turned a corner."

Robertson said while the figures showed most sectors had performed well in the June quarter, retailers were still struggling because people were being cautious about their spending.

"But I think if you look overall at the economy, this is a resilient picture."

National, ACT reactions

Speaking ahead of the figures' release, National Party leader Christopher Luxon rejected the suggestion that coming out of recession took some of the heat out of his criticism of Labour's mismanagement of the economy.

"I think it is likely there will be sort of slow, very, very slow anaemic positive growth second quarter, the June quarter. You're already hearing the Reserve Bank of New Zealand saying the third quarter, which is the September quarter, is probably a negative growth again and there's always talk of a double-dip recession," he said.

"What I'm focused on is either way you look at it, what we're seeing is slow, low, anaemic growth for New Zealand for a long, for a bit of, for a while - and that's something we've got to stop."

Asked how significantly National would change its plans after seeing the numbers and the government's books in PREFU, he said the party had been "very prudent and economically responsible with its policies".

"We have been very constructive and thoughtful about how we actually fund our policies."

He said the party's alternative budget would be released in the next week or so.

In a statement, the party's finance spokesperson Nicola Willis said anyone hearing Robertson claim victory would be within their rights to feel insulted and outraged.

"Labour has mismanaged and vandalised the economy on a scale unlike anything we have seen in recent history," she said.

"Government is spending up 80 percent - $1 billion a day more than 2017. The current account deficit is the largest in the OECD. The economy has been anything but well-managed."

"For many people, things feel so bleak that they are looking at opportunities overseas and voting with their feet, with almost 40,000 Kiwis permanently leaving the country last year."

Provisional net annual migration in the June 2023 year was a gain of 86,800 people, driven by a record 121,600 migrant arrivals.

ACT leader David Seymour said the reality was the next few years would be "grim thanks to Labour's economic mismanagement", pointing to "a backdrop of huge inbound immigration".

"In other words, the economy is growing because the population is growing, not because productivity is improving," he said.

"The headline GDP figure masks the fact New Zealanders are facing a 'personal recession'.

"ACT is committed to cutting waste from government and returning that money to New Zealanders through lower taxes and targeted, sensible spending on core public services. ACT will ensure quality public services by setting clear targets for chief executives and removing the scourge of identity politics from the public service. ACT will cut down on red tape and regulation."