Contrary to popular belief, New Zealand's economy is manufacturing-heavy, according to a report released by ManufacturingNZ today.
The report compiled by researchers Castalia finds manufacturing contributed 14.6 per cent to the country's gross domestic product in 2012, making it the largest economic sector.
"This makes manufacturing more important to our economy than it is to Australia's, and on par in relative importance with Western Europe and the Unites States of America," Alex Sundakov, chief executive of Castalia, said.
"This is important, since New Zealanders do not typically think of themselves as living in a manufacturing economy," Sundakov said.
"This misperception can lead to people taking training and career paths, and entrepreneurs to making business decisions, which could undermine the potential for growth."
The report interviewed 15 successful, high-growth New Zealand manufacturers.
Companies interviewed ranged from sector heavyweights such as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Gallagher Group to smaller firms like Abe's Bagel Bakery and Fusion Electronics.
Based on the experience of these manufacturers, the report is calling on the Government to do more to support what it says is a vibrant and thriving sector.
Catherine Beard, executive director of ManufacturingNZ, said addressing the skills shortage was one of the top public policy issues manufacturers wanted to raise with the Government.
"The case studies in this report reveal common factors which make New Zealand manufacturers competitive," she said.
"Talent-driven innovation is a key driver of competitiveness."
Manufacturers also wanted the Government to do more to maintain a stable exchange rate and corporate tax regime, increase research and development grants and improve business relations in key export markets.
The report also calls on the Government to develop a overarching manufacturing policy across all ministries and to reduce what it describes as a "procedural bias" against New Zealand companies in government procurement.
- Fairfax Media