Economist says 'a lot of growth' needed to reach Government target of doubling export GDP

An economist is warning more growth is needed to get exports back to 30 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). 

It comes as exports have dropped from 30 percent of GDP down to 25 percent. 

Independent economist Cameron Bagrie says the Government's goal of doubling exports is only a possibility if they are "realistic about that target". 

In 2011, the National Party set a target of taking exports from 30 percent to 40 percent of GDP, however, according to Bagrie, they went "the other way". 

"That's a pretty big goal," he admitted. "Did we get anywhere close? The answer is no." 

"What we're seeing in this post-COVID area, is it's been pretty tough. Tourism is making a comeback, but it's still below where it was pre-COVID," he explained. 

"In the meantime, the economy has grown, but the export sector hasn't kept up, so we've gone from 30 percent down to 25 percent." 

He said doubling exports will "require the equivalent of five dairy sectors". 

Bagrie admitted "a lot of growth" is required to see change. 

However, he said whether or not infrastructure can support the growth is "the million-dollar question". 

"Are we going to need market access? Are we going to need to unlock the likes of India? Are we going to need more free-trade agreements? The answer is yes." 

"If you put aside demand, you've actually got to meet that demand," he stressed. "You actually need to grow and produce the stuff, and get it from A to B." 

"If you have a look at the Port of Tauranga for example, you've got to get it out into international markets." 

The port is New Zealand's international freight gateway for imports and exports. 

"Port of Tauranga has got about two years left of runway left, so we need a lot more infrastructure within ports, within roading. We need to get water policy right; we need to get the financing of these projects right." 

He said while demand is important, it's "a necessary condition" and "not sufficient". 

"We need to be looking a lot more broadly and holistically about how we are going to double exports if we are realistic about that target."