Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Hipkins puts India trade, agritech high on agenda

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Pledges to visit in first 100 days if elected PM.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says New Zealand wants the best price for the best products, produced by the best farmers in the world.
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Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and the Labour Party have published their economic plan for the next electoral term.

It includes a pledge from Hipkins to visit India in his first 100 days as part of a push to secure a trade agreement, a proposal to grow the agritech sector by investing $100 million in a venture capital fund and an announcement that Hipkins will pursue five economic priorities if elected. 

It also puts the government’s books to OBEGAL (operating balance before gains and losses) surplus within the “budget forecast period” – set at 2025-26 in the May Budget Economic and Fiscal Update 2023 – and delivering small surpluses in the years afterwards.

The five priorities were set out in a document titled Our Pathway Forward: Building for tomorrow, released on Wednesday morning. 

They included a pledge to turn New Zealand into a centre of excellence for sustainable agriculture and agritech, and into a global leader in renewable energy. 

There is also an intention to grow NZ as an “export-led” economy; focus on digital creativity and expertise; and boost NZ’s “premium tourism offering”.

On agritech, Labour said it aims to grow the agritech sector from $2-3 billion today to $8bn by 2030 and would achieve this by investing $100m into the venture capital fund. 

“This investment will shape our clean, green economic brand in the future, including through their joint investment fund with Finistere Ventures developed through the agritech industry transformation plan,” the document says. 

The party also pledges to invest $29.9m in a Horticulture Technology Catalyst programme to help growers adopt automation and other technologies.

As for his pledge to visit India within months of being elected PM, Hipkins said: “Free trade agreements now cover almost three-quarters of New Zealand’s exports. A key focus next term will be to expand those opportunities further.

“After securing trade deals with the United Kingdom and European Union this year, my next priority will be to lead a prime ministerial delegation to India within the first 100 days of a new government.”

The renewable energy component of the economic plan is set to be announced later. 

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