NZ Marine industry forecasts growth despite global gloom

Peter Busfield.
NZ Marine
The New Zealand marine industry is expecting grow at a rate of around 8% per annum over the next decade and to increase its level of exports by almost $1 billion.

These figures were released by NZ Marine executive director Peter Busfield and are based on an independent survey of the industry by Market Economics.

Mr Busfield says the survey shows that, despite the recent international economic problems, many marine industry sectors were expecting strong growth over the next 10 years.

'As a whole, our industry is expecting to grow from its present size of nearly $1.7 billion to over $3.7 billion by 2021. That growth will see us create around 9700 additional jobs and, if everything goes according to plan, we will be contributing approximately $1.54 billion per year to New Zealand’s export earnings.'

The survey showed that the industry is currently worth around $1.7 billion to the New Zealand economy, of which $642 million is exported. The superyacht sector, almost all of which involves local-built vessels for offshore clients, was responsible for almost a third of that ($198 million). Other sectors with a strong export focus, especially sales of locally manufactured marine equipment and the refit and maintenance of visiting offshore-based vessels, were also strong contributors.

'Particularly pleasing,' says Mr Busfield, 'is that exports of recreational vessels reached $271 million last year. 'This is almost back to 2008 levels when these sectors hit a peak of $275 million in export sales.'

Mr Busfield says the latest survey again shows the benefits of staging major marine events in New Zealand.

'Since 2000, when we staged the first defence of the America’s Cup in Auckland, attracting significant numbers of superyachts and racing yacht specialists, our recreational vessel exports have continued to climb.

'They are now almost double what they were in 2000 and almost treble what they were in the decade prior to that.'

Mr Busfield says that success graphically illustrates the importance of staging major events here.

'That is why we rescheduled the Auckland International Boat Show for this week, to profile our industry and its innovative boats and products to the tens of thousands of visitors here for the Rugby World Cup.

'It is also why we are staging the world’s first Superyacht Captains’ Forum here in the Viaduct at the same time, bringing together well over 100 of the most influential people in this sector -- and why we are so enthusiastic about the Volvo Round the World race stopover here next March.'

Mr Busfield says he believes the New Zealand marine industry has weathered the global financial crisis better than most.

'While sales this year are 29% lower than we forecast in 2008, this survey shows our member companies expect to recapture much of that shortfall by 2015 and to keep growing strongly from there.'

He says one of the reasons the industry is in such a strong position to grow is the importance it continues to place on training highly skilled craftspeople.

'The New Zealand Marine Industry Training Organisation (NZMITO) is generally regarded as the best of its type anywhere in the world and the envy of many other countries,' he says. 'Over the past few years NZMITO has helped more than 1000 young apprentices complete their National Certificates in a wide range of practical disciplines. These young men and women are now ell on their way to becoming the world’s best boatbulders, sparmakers, marine engineers and the like.

'Over the past decade, NZMITO has placed special emphasis on the skills demanded by our fastest growing sectors and those with the most potential, such as superyacht refits, and the industry as a whole is now reaping the benefits.'

Mr Busfield does, however, sound one note of caution.

'The forecast figures, especially those relating to our strong export sectors, do look very promising. However, in order to achieve this expected growth, we will need the infrastructure and facilities we have been promised in places like Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter and Hobsonsville.

'We cannot stress too strongly how important these are to the marine industry and its ability to continue to strongly contribute to the New Zealand economy and its export growth.'