Our mi­cro-ini­tia­tives show eco­nomic way

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY - By TIM CRON­SHAW

New Zealand agri­cul­ture seems to have moved be­yond talk of great trade op­por­tu­ni­ties in Asia to ex­e­cut­ing ways of mak­ing the most of them.

ANZ chief econ­o­mist Cameron Ba­grie said the agri­cul­ture sec­tor had ex­pe­ri­enced a change of at­ti­tude.

‘‘There has been a big change in the tenor of con­ver­sa­tions be­tween now and three years ago.

‘‘Three years ago we were talk­ing about op­por­tu­nity. Now there are a lot more thought lead­er­ship fo­rums around the coun­try that are cen­tred around ex­e­cu­tion and how we un­lock those gains. Those sort of shifts are sub­tle but they are very im­por­tant as they sig­nal where New Zealand is mov­ing to.’’

In 10 years New Zealand could have ac­cess to a mar­ket of 4 bil­lion peo­ple through free trade agree­ments. Grow­ing pop­u­la­tions in Asia were be­com­ing wealth­ier and cre­at­ing a pow­er­ful de­mand for pro­tein with po­ten­tial for more free trade.

New Zealand could not feed all of Asia, per­haps only 30 to 40 mil­lion peo­ple, but other coun­tries were go­ing to en­ter the high value mar­ket.

‘‘Whether China grows at zero per cent or 10 per cent is not go­ing to make much of a dif­fer­ence to New Zealand be­cause we are small and we are tin­pot,’’ said Ba­grie.

‘‘We are not go­ing to be feed­ing that mar­ket en masse, we are go­ing to be feed­ing them in se­lect groups.

So what we are in­ter­ested in at the mo­ment is: What are the strate­gies peo­ple are putting up? ‘‘What is the ex­e­cu­tion? How are we go­ing to bench­mark those?’’

Ba­grie said he was look­ing at mi­cro-eco­nomic ev­i­dence that New Zealand was tak­ing its story to Asia to take ad­van­tage of op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Small ini­tia­tives such as board com­po­si­tions, brand­style strate­gies over vol­ume-style and work by the ed­u­ca­tion fra­ter­nity – showed progress be­ing made.

‘‘A cou­ple of months ago Fon­terra an­nounced some­one of Asian de­scent was go­ing to be on their board. In­di­vid­u­ally it doesn’t mean very much but what does that tell me – that they are dead­set on un­der­stand­ing the fi­nal end con­sumer. So I take those mi­cro eco­nomic ini­tia­tives as tremen­dously en­cour­ag­ing.’’ Glob­ally the eco­nomic pic­ture re­mained ‘‘wob­bly’’ with Europe still a mess, the cur­rency still too high and volatil­ity the norm.

Farm­ers needed to fo­cus on the things they could in­flu­ence on the farm and the big com­pa­nies on brand mar­ket­ing.

Ba­grie said the bank was also try­ing to max­imise op­por­tu­ni­ties by tak­ing clients to Asia – In­dia, Viet­nam, China – and meet­ing peo­ple in the mar­ket­place.

– ANZ chief econ­o­mist Cameron Ba­grie

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