Regional economies going strong
The health of the New Zealand economy is important to each and every Kiwi, to each and every business based here. Without a strong economic base, no government can provide its populace with the services they need.
In recent weeks, the international landscape has looked less certain so I've enjoyed joining several colleagues in visiting some of the businesses in the regions, hearing first-hand their successes and challenges.
What was very apparent was that these business people are still doing what they've always done: making the most of every opportunity, seeking to grow their businesses, expanding within existing markets and breaking into new ones. And they're employing more people in the process.
Though the softening of the dairy market is causing challenges in parts of the economy, the drop in the New Zealand dollar is helping other exporters. Chief among them are tourism operators. Tourism now accounts for 7 per cent of our total economy -- more than dairying at 5 per cent. Tourism businesses, such as the prawn farm at Wairakei we visited, are making the most of New Zealand as an attractive destination.
Much remains to be done, however, and, in a global economy, that presents us with both risk and opportunity. That's why quality free trade agreements such as the TPPA are so important for us. As the prime minister has pointed out, "We won't get rich selling to ourselves". Business understands that. Its leaders are getting on with what they can do and they want the same from us.