Look after export-led industries - economist

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 09:03 23/08/2012
Ganesh Nana
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ
LOOKING AHEAD: Economist Dr Ganesh Nana says Southland needs to ensure the strength of its export industries to enjoy prosperity once the region rides out the global downturn.

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Businesses can expect a tough two years and Southland must continue its investment focus to take care of its export sector to ensure the region rides out the tough times.

Business and Economic Research Ltd chief economist Dr Ganesh Nana, who gave a presentation to businesses yesterday at accountancy firm WHK, said people needed to send a signal that the region was not closing down.

Southland was well positioned as an export-based economy, which was a big plus for the region, he said, as he outlined the impact of ongoing financial instability overseas and the state of the New Zealand economy.

Issues surrounding the exchange rate were not right for the export sector, he said.

"The sooner the policy makers realise this the better it will be for the region and New Zealand," he said.

The New Zealand economy would continue to be difficult for exporters during the next few years, particularly as China and other parts of Asia slowed, but the region could not afford to close down now, he said.

A longer-term focus was needed and the region should not stop investment in infrastructure and training. "Southland has got to continue its investment focus to ensure the export sector is healthy for when the rest of the world does recover."

Long term, he advised business to continue to look for new markets and products, and to take a closer look at industries such as forestry, and look to more investment in the sheep and beef sector, and research and development.

The biggest challenge facing businesses in the region was retaining its workforce, he said.

Business and community development organisations needed to engage with education institutions and signal that the region was not closing down, he said.

There were many bad stories about the economy, but Southland was fine and healthy, he said.

"The Southland economy will continue to grow, but will not grow as fast as it has done in the past. However, do not expect a quick recovery," he said.

He advised businesses to ride out the storm for the next few years.

"It will be more of the same, so be prepared for a long, slow haul."

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- The Southland Times

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