The success of the Government’s intent to double the value of New Zealand’s exports to the world in ten years requires growth-focused businesses that are prepared and enabled to make the necessary investments in people, innovation, and customer relationships to generate the sales and export revenues.

The enthusiasm to create easier pathways to market has already been demonstrated with significant activity in the trade portfolio, initiating free trade negotiations with the UAE and accelerating necessary pre-work for discussions with India.

Access to markets, while critical, is only part of the strategy to doubling export value. We must ensure that we maintain our productive agri-food base. KPMG’s annual survey of industry priorities has highlighted biosecurity as the top priority of industry executives for the last decade. We are currently facing a major incursion threat with Avian Influenza having become endemic around Antarctica. While there is no practical way to keep the disease out of New Zealand given it is established in wild bird flocks, and no practical way to eliminate it, investment now ahead of incursion will assist in mitigating the impact of the disease, and we protect as much of our productive base as possible.

While most of our export revenues rely on the movement of physical products around the world, the value we can realise from these products is increasingly connected to the digital insight that accompanies them relating to their provenance and attributes. There are as many systems across our agri-food sector as there are businesses, with limited data sharing or consistency in the information being provided to customers. Government investment in a common data platform for the agri-food sector would simplify record keeping for producers, create regulatory efficiencies and support companies to realise more of the true value of their products in market.

Constant innovation is also critical to ensuring we are supplying products that are relevant to our customers. Government-funded innovation has underpinned much of the growth we have achieved, particularly in supporting the long-term intergenerational bets that have benefited our dairy and kiwifruit sectors. With the National Science Challenges finishing and today’s further announcements of MBIE science funding reducing, there is uncertainty around the Government’s future role in the mission-critical science that will contribute to doubling our exports. Resolving this uncertainty to ensure we retain the intellectual capacity that we need is a high priority for the sector. Ensuring our scientists have access to cutting edge technology is also critical to retaining our science capability, and it pleasing to see the Government’s willingness to enter into mature conversations on topics like modern biotechnologies.