Weekend Sun column

Friday, June 24, 2016

On Wednesday evening I attended the Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower awards. After a day of competitive events the winner was announced at a gala dinner at Mills Reef Winery. Congratulations to all of those who took part.

If the calibre of the contestants is anything to go by, the future of the horticulture sector in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty is in good hands. This is vitally important for our region, as the sector contributes around $1 billion worth of exports a year to the local economy. Around 80 per cent of national kiwifruit production is in the Bay of Plenty, employing 6,000 people.

The Government is committed to helping the horticulture sector continue to grow and create more jobs by reducing barriers to trade and removing tariffs. The recently signed Trans-Pacific Partnership will save $34 million a year in tariffs on fruit and vegetables when implemented. Together with the NZ-Korea Free Trade Agreement signed last year, it is worth $14,000 to every kiwifruit grower in New Zealand.

Tonight I will be at the Bay of Plenty ExportNZ Awards. This event is always a great occasion, recognising and celebrating local export success stories. The companies nominated represent only a fraction of the fantastic export businesses in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty.

It is these businesses that create jobs, not Government. We are focussed on what we can do to help these businesses increase investment and grow, hire more people and pay higher wages.