“As an industry we’ve had a long and proud history contributing to the building of New Zealand and our economy. We now employ over 26,000 people in a diverse range of companies, and last year exported $2.3 billion worth of product, or 5.5% of the country’s total exports.
“However, fierce competition, particularly in the form of cheap, pre-fabricated metal products, is a growing threat. We need to work together to meet this and other challenges so that we can continue to foster our natural innovation, and grow our productivity and overall contribution to the economy,” Mr Davies says.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, acting Minister for Economic Development David Carter acknowledged that the metals industry is diverse, reaches different product markets and faces different barriers and constraints.
“These are challenging times for your sector, for the country and for the global economy. But history shows that out of great challenges can come great change and great opportunities.
“Metals New Zealand has a vision of how it can drive the industry forward, and I believe that the innovative firms in this sector have the talent to make the vision a reality,” Mr Carter told the conference.
Mr Davies, who is also the director of hydraulic hose and fittings company Hydraulink, says there are a number of other challenges that need to be addressed by the industry.
“Key among these is improving our engagement with the Government in order to achieve a level playing field in areas such as research funding, compliance costs and building codes.
Another priority is attracting and retaining skilled workers,” Mr Davies says.
Metals New Zealand’s initial priority will be to build its membership right across the industry, from the various sector organisations already in existence, to large-scale steel manufacturers and smaller high-tech companies.
”A number of existing sector bodies are already on board, and I’m confident the rest of the industry will get in behind this much-needed initiative. This is about taking control of our own destiny and ensuring a sustainable and prosperous future for our members.”