Archive for the ‘Business Leadership’ Category

All The Best Lloyd

January 19, 2009

We at the Chamber work very closely with the Infratil team and know Lloyd Morrison well.  I was therefore very upset to read the several e-mails sent overnight about Lloyd’s news.  If anyone can fight this disease Lloyd can.  All the best Lloyd for the weeks ahead.

Current Account Deficit Another Wake Up Call

December 23, 2008

Having a current account deficit sitting at 8.6% of GDP is not where we want to be in the middle of a global financial crisis (we need to borrow from the rest of the world to bridge the deficit).  Increasing our export earnings has to be a key priority for the new Government.  Clearly our policy settings and interventions to help boost exports are not the right ones as our exports as a proportion of GDP showed a steady decline under 9 years of the previous Government.  This is a key focus of activity for the Chamber.  We have been pleased by the responses received to our concerns from Ministers Groser and Brownlie.  Skilling and Weldon have likewise been agitating about the need for change.  I was also pleased to read over the weekend the concern that NZ Post CEO John Allen was expressing about the need to improve our export performance.  Only an NZ Inc approach involving all agencies of Government and the business community is going to solve this problem.

One Stop Shop For Exporters In Wellington

December 2, 2008

This has taken a few months to put together but I am very excited that we are now able to go public on this development.  Thanks to Paul Winter and the team at EMA for your willingness to collaborate:

Media Release

2 December 2008


New Operation for Wellington Exporters to be Established


EMA Central and the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce are delighted to announce their intention to establish a one stop shop for exporters in the Greater Wellington region. 


The new operation will be a joint venture between the two organisations with each contributing export related services and support staff. The joint venture will both make it simpler for exporters to receive advice on exporting and increase the quality and range of services available to exporters in the region.  It is hoped that the operation could more cost effectively deliver some of the export support operations of NZTE. We also intend to work very closely with Grow Wellington and explore expanding the concept to involve other Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Agencies in the central region.


The joint venture operation, to be called Export Wellington, will be guided by the Export New Zealand Regional Committee, who are locally elected exporters and advisers, with additional members appointed by EMA Central and the Wellington Regional Chamber. The joint venture will provide a continuation of the services already being offered by Export New Zealand in the Wellington Region. Events and activities will take place at the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce in the Majestic Centre on Willis Street.


The joint venture will offer the following services:


  • Export certification;
  • Information on export markets;
  • Export related training;
  • Export consultancy services
  • Exporter events;
  • Regional export awards;
  • Events for visiting delegations
  • Links to the international Chamber of Commerce global network.
  • Channelling contributions for export advocacy


The joint venture has also been structured to enable Wellington regional exporters to join the recently re-launched Export New Zealand organisation via a membership with EMA Central or with the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce.  That in turn provides access to the full range of services and advocacy offered nationally by Export New Zealand.


“The Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce and EMA Central have been working for the last few years towards a better collaborative relationship.  It is good we can now formalise that collaboration,” said Chamber CEO, Charles Finny, .


“This offers the opportunity to increase the value proposition for both sets of memberships and to expand the range of services available for Wellington regional exporters,” said EMA Central CEO, Paul Winter. 


“Times are tough out there and they will get tougher.  In these circumstances it makes sense to consolidate operations and expand the range of services and supports available.  Monitoring the impact of the international financial crisis and conveying latest intelligence on what it means will be a key role for the new operation,” Charles Finny concluded.

Bill English NZCCI Speech

December 1, 2008

The NZ Herald is carrying a report of the speech Bill English gave to the NZ Chambers Conference in Rotorua on Friday.  We reported our recollection over teh weekend.

Productivity and efficient spending at all levels are vital to riding out the recession, says Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.

Mr English, who is also the Minister of Finance and Infrastructure, was the final speaker at the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce conference hosted in Rotorua, attended by chamber presidents and chief executives from around the country.

He said: “We think 2009 is going to be a pretty tough year.

“A short, sharp recession people can endure. Longer, deeper ones are a bit more difficult.”

He said it would become increasingly hard for employers to keep staff numbers up and he expected unemployment to rise “quite significantly”.

While he said there was no silver bullet to solve the problems, Mr English believed New Zealand needed to shift the focus of government and businesses from a wealth based on borrowed money to one centred on greater productivity and a more competitive export industry.

“The markets buying our products are hitting the wall. We cannot control that, so there is little point worrying about it. We have to focus on doing what we can to get us through the recession in a way that is going to get us ready for when the economy picks up.”

Improved productivity and more efficient spending were the two main things Mr English said were needed at an individual, business and national level, and he stressed the need to look at long-term solutions rather than short-term, quick fixes.

Act leader Rodney Hide, as Minister of Regulatory Reform, is expected to play a significant part in this process.

Mr English said the Government needed to lead the way by improving its infrastructure and speeding Government services and procedures. Further tax cuts will inject an estimated $7 billion into the economy during the next two years.

“It will put cash in people’s pockets – and they will have to decide whether they will save it, spend it or pay off debts.”

Mr English said he wanted to know from organisations like the Chambers of Commerce if they felt the Government was not getting it right.

He encouraged a good working relationship between chambers and their local MPs to ensure regular feedback.

NZCCI Conference In Rotorua

November 28, 2008

I am at the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce Annual Conference in Rotorua.  We have around 30 Chambers throughout New Zealand.  In total the Chambers have 24,000 or so members making it the biggest business network in New Zealand.  The focus have been very much on how the network can provide the best possible support to members in the current difficult economic times.  Fran O’Sullivan and Brendon O’Donovan have left delegates in no doubt about the seriousness of the challenge we face as an economy.  A highlight was a talk on climate change policy by Chris Baker of Saunders and Unsworth.  This was seen by many yesterday as one of the best examples of what not to do when making public policy… Delegates are today looking forward to the address by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.

Rotorua has done the network proud in its organisation of this event.  I particularly enjoyed the entertainment last night from a local Rotorua act “Off Broadway”.  Evelyn Falconer, Craig Davson, Heather Brockett and Alasdair Hay performed a great array of well known songs from Broadway musicals.  The performances were most professional and entertaining.  I would recommend this group to anyone organising a conference in Rotorua. Unfortunately their programme doesn’t include contact details or website address.  The Rotorua Chamber might like to provide advice on this………….

Update:  Contact number for “Off Broadway” is 0272245473

Should We All Move To Kazakhstan?

November 23, 2008

I have just finished the 22 November edition of The Listener.  Can I commend an article that appears on page 54 by Rebecca Macfie.  I first met Rebecca in 2004 when she was writing for Unlimted Magazine, and was very pleased when she took on the task of writing the Business column in The Listener.

Rebecca looks at the wake up call from Infratil boss Lloyd Morrison – if we continue current trends we will be poorer than Kazakhstan and Botswana within 17 years.  She also looks at the policy suggestions from David Skilling (NZ Institute) and Mark Weldon (NZX) in their contribution to the debate Economy on The Edge: Swan Dive or Belly Flop

At the Chamber we agree with a number of the policy proposals put forward by Weldon and Skilling and we can only applaud the vision that Lloyd Morrison is challenging us with.  But what interested us most was this paragraph from Rebecca’s article

There is plenty of room for debate about these recommendations, but what matters more than the specific proposals is that outfits such as the NZX and Morrison and Co are willing to put their heads above the parapet to offer them.

Too often, New Zealand business leaders have been reluctant to take a strong stand on important issues.  In part this is a reflection of the tall poppy syndrome.  It has also been an unfortunate by-product of New Zealand politics.  Because of our size, business leaders have been reluctant to talk publicly of inconvenient truths or make suggestions that might be interpreted as implied criticism of Government.

We are arranging a speaking slot for Mark Weldon at the Chamber earlish in the New Year to allow him to keep the momentum up on his policy suggestions.  We will try and get Lloyd Morrison to speak a month or so later on his campaign.

We leave the last word to Rebecca Macfie

The new Government has a choice. It can let the contributions of people such as Morrison and Weldon be sucked into the same vortex that consumed the promise of the Knowledge Wave and the ambition of Labour’s top-half-of-the-OECD-goal.  Or it can find a way of harnessing the brains, experience and patriotic energy on offer.