Primary sector exports at record levels

Last updated 12:24 10/06/2014

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Overseas demand for New Zealand primary products has seen total returns jump to $37.7 billion this year, up more than $1.3b on forecasts.

China continues to be a main driver for growth for most sectors.

The dairy industry accounts for 46 per cent of primary industry export value and 35 per cent of all export merchandise.

Sectors across the board – from dairy, meat, wool, horticulture, seafood and forestry – have shown increases at a time when exporters have had to cope with a high New Zealand dollar.

The figures were contained in the Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries 2014 report released by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and which also forecasts the outlook for major primary sectors over the next four years.

"Meat and wool exports have broken $8b, which is fantastic considering last year's drought," Guy said.

"Exports are expected to increase by around 22 per cent for the five years to 2018.

"Demand for logs from China is driving the growth of the forestry sector, with export value reaching $5.1b at the end of June 2014.

"Domestic demand for sawn timber is expected to increase with the Auckland and Christchurch housing markets growing."

The report forecasts that by 2016 the value of horticulture exports will surpass $4b, while by 2018, export earnings for the New Zealand seafood industry are expected to increase to $1.64b, with prices likely to remain high through strong demand from China, Australia, the United States and the European Union.

"These results are helped by programmes such as the Primary Growth Partnership, Sustainable Farming Fund and the Irrigation Acceleration Fund, which all deliver long-term value to the sector and the New Zealand economy," Guy said.

The trade-weighted index is estimated to average 77.5 in the year ending this month and reached 80.2 in April this year, the highest for the past 15 years.

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