7 Jul 2020

Government plan aims to boost primary sector export earnings by $44bn

2:38 pm on 7 July 2020

The government has launched a plan to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor, also Biosecurity Minister, Food Safety Minister, Rural Communities Minister, Trade and Export Growth Minister of State

Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

It said the plan was focused on unlocking greater value for a sector which is vital to New Zealand's economic recovery post Covid-19.

The report is a follow up to a strategy unveiled in December last year. That was released by the government's Primary Sector Council and called for a move away from volume, towards value-added products, which would get premium prices in the marketplace.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said today's new report outlined practical ways for the sector to achieve that goal. Some of the recommended actions included modernising export legislation, establishing a Māori Primary Sector Leaders Forum and using food science to support health and provenance claims.

He said the sector had to act quickly and couldn't continue to rely on volume growth to generate greater returns.

"Our Fit for a Better World Roadmap builds on the work both primary industries and the government have already started and brings together actions, investment, and resources that will work in concert to accelerate the transformation we need."

O'Connor said the next step was to develop a phased implementation programme.

"Over the coming months we'll be working with the sector on rolling it out. There is huge potential in this roadmap but it can only be achieved through a close partnership with industry and Māori," he said.

In the year ended June 2019, primary sector exports reached $46.3 billion. A report released by the Ministry for Primary Industries last month found despite the impacts of Covid-19, primary sector exports for 2020 were tracking 4.5 percent, or $1.7 billion, higher than 2019 levels.

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