On Monday, the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association (NZMEA) hosted a forum to discuss policy issues of importance to manufacturers, featuring Hon Steven Joyce, National MP and Minister for Finance and Infrastructure, Grant Robertson, Labour's Finance Spokesperson, and James Shaw, Co-Leader of the Green Party. This was a great opportunity to hear three representatives from major parties engage with NZMEA members in a quality discussion on manufacturing.
Now the NZMEA is releasing its list of policies for the 2017 election.
Dieter Adam, CE, NZMEA said, “With the election only 7 weeks away, it’s important that all parties put forward their vision for creating a more prosperous and high-value economy, with manufacturing playing a key role.
"We believe the policies set out here will contribute to growing high value industries in New Zealand. We would like to see all parties include all or at least some of our 10 policy points in their election policies. These include working to develop a better understanding of manufacturing and its future potential through a Minister for Manufacturing, addressing skills shortages that hold back the industry from growth and changes to R&D settings to help increase business R&D spending.” The 10 NZMEA policy positions are outlined below. A full list can be found here.
- Fundamentally change the policy approach to economic development, focusing on growing high-value exports
- Appoint a Minister for Manufacturing
- Improve and reform the education sector to address current and future skill shortages
- Review immigration to ensure a more targeted approach to filling short-term skills shortages
- Encourage and support increased business R&D and innovation through R&D tax credits
- Introduce accelerated depreciation for new machinery and equipment
- Work to create a level playing field for manufacturers in trade agreements and trade practices
- Provide the right incentives for shifting more investment into the productive sectors of our economy
- Review and reform monetary policy
- Adopt effective and equitable policies that lead to improved environmental outcomes, especially in the areas of global warming and fresh water quality
” Our policies will help to create an environment where high value producers, particularly manufacturers, can thrive, grow exports and provide well-paid incomes so New Zealanders can have a more prosperous future,” said Adam
The NZMEA forum offered a robust conversation about the opportunities and challenges manufacturers face, focusing on the steady and growing contribution manufacturing is making to the goal of New Zealand exports reaching 40% of GDP, staying abreast of advancing technology and investing in a skilled workforce.
Adam says manufacturing has changed offering new opportunities for countries like New Zealand to grab and run with.
“Manufacturing is also entering a rich pipeline of innovations in materials and processes – from 3-D printing to advanced robotics, which promises to create efficiencies and speed to a global market. The future is more and more about innovation, increased productivity and global trade of high value components and we want to hear how our political leaders plan to support this. The forum was a positive step forward and we were pleased to hear politicians acknowledge the vital role both process and product innovation plays in growing our sector," he says.
Prof Jane Goodyer, Head of School of Engineering and Technology, Massey University, moderated the event from a highly experienced perspective.
“The manufacturing sector is the backbone to NZ’s prosperity through taking our innovations to the world," she said. “NZ has an opportunity to really add value to our economy. Industry, Government and education need to work closer together to make this happen.”
Prof Goodyer’s comments reiterate recommendations in a 2012 McKinsey report on the future of manufacturing, which concluded that two key priorities for both governments and businesses are education and the development of skills. They will need qualified, computer-savvy factory workers and agile managers for complex global supply chains. In addition to supporting ongoing efforts to improve public education—particularly the teaching of math and analytical skills—policy makers must work with industry and educational institutions to ensure that skills learned in school fit the needs of employers.