Region's economy remains mired

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 09:00 29/03/2014

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The Manawatu/Whanganui region's gross domestic product has recorded a small drop, and the region remains stuck as the nation's third-worst performing area per capita.

Statistics NZ yesterday released GDP figures for the year to March 2013, showing Manawatu/Whanganui one of eight regions to suffer a drop in production.

Fluctuations in commodity prices and the 2012/13 drought were listed as reasons for the drops by Statistics NZ

GDP in the region for the period was $8.54 billion, down just under 1 per cent from the March 2012 figure of $8.62b.

Manawatu/Whanganui recorded the third-lowest figure of GDP per capita at $36,688, ahead of only Northland and Gisborne. The number was down on the $37,051 figure per capita for March 2012.

Labour were quick to jump on the figures for Manawatu/Whanganui and other provincial areas, calling them evidence that National had "hollowed out" the regions.

"Figures out today for the year to March 2013, show economic activity per capita went backwards in Waikato, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui, Marlborough, the West Coast and Southland," Labour leader David Cunliffe said.

"Even modest growth in Northland didn't translate into desperately needed jobs with the annual unemployment rate rising from 8.3 per cent to 9.9 per cent over the same period.

"A Labour government will back regional businesses and help them move their products from volume to value. We will invest in research and development to make sure New Zealand reaps the benefits of Kiwi ingenuity."

Earlier this week, when Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce visited Palmerston North, the Manawatu Standard asked him about Labour's repeated attacks on National's efforts for provincial economies.

The Government had supported the economy in Manawatu through Resource Management Act reforms, encouraging people into science and technology based study, moving ahead with the Wellington northern corridor road upgrade and improving the access of New Zealand products to overseas markets.

The Manawatu/Whanganui GDP figures showed agriculture was, at 10.4 per cent, the largest contributor to the region's GDP. Manufacturing was second at 9.9 per cent with the public administration, safety and defence sector third at 7.8 per cent.

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- Manawatu Standard

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