Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges will attend the opening of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group’s Australia and New Zealand headquarters in Melbourne tomorrow.
“Alibaba Group is the world’s largest online and mobile marketplace and presents an enormous opportunity for New Zealand exporters to sell their products into the huge China market,” Mr Bridges says.
“China is our second-biggest trading partner after Australia and we have all witnessed the rise of e-commerce platforms globally, but few countries have embraced e-commerce with the gusto shown by Chinese consumers.
“In the last year, China’s e-commerce retail sales have grown 37 per cent versus 11.3 per cent in standard retail; mobile commerce sales have grown 123 per cent; and 50 per cent of the population are yet to access the internet.
“With a population size of 1.4 billion and growing recognition and demand for Western brands, it is clear that e-commerce presents significant opportunities for our exporters. Alibaba is a key gateway to taking advantage of this,” Mr Bridges says.
The opening of the Australia and New Zealand headquarters follows last year’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Alibaba Group which formalised discussions for strengthening trade between China and New Zealand.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the replacement of one-way bridges on Northland’s state highways has moved another step forward, with a contractor being appointed to carry out the works at Matakohe and Taipa.
A contract has been awarded to Fulton Hogan and Aurecon, who will jointly deliver the first part of the Northland Bridges programme, to replace two bridges at Matakohe and one at Taipa with two-way structures.
“These bridge upgrades are part of the Government’s commitment to invest in Northland’s State Highway network to stimulate economic growth throughout the region, improve safety and strengthen connections with the rest of New Zealand,” Mr Bridges says.
“The new bridge at Taipa will provide greater resilience during extreme weather events and improve safety as well as providing better connections along the Twin Coast Discovery route between the Bay of Islands and Doubtless Bay.”
The proposals also provide two traffic lanes as well as a shared path for pedestrians and cyclists.
“The replacement of the two bridges at Matakohe will improve safety for all road users. The narrow width of the current bridges causes delays during the busy visitor season which are linked to driver frustration and risk taking behaviours which can lead to crashes. For example, there were 15 reported crashes on or near the bridges between 2005 and 2014,” Mr Bridges says.
The improvements include a realignment of the state highway to remove the tight bends approaching the bridges. A new intersection for the iconic Kauri Museum will be built and cycling connections provided along the Twin Coast Discovery route.
Public consultation on the preferred alignment for both the bridges will take place in the first quarter of this year. This is in addition to the public feedback already collected following a series of open days in October last year.
Construction is expected to start later this year.
The construction contract also has provision to be extended to include the replacement of the Kaeo bridge. Construction of this bridge is planned to get underway in 2018, subject to consents and property purchase.
The six remaining one-way bridges within the Northland Bridges programme are in the planning stage.
Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have praised the progress of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan, one year on from its launch.
The action plan has been developed and led by the Northland Regional Governance Group and is part of the Government’s Regional Growth Programme. It identifies over 50 actions to support and enable growth in Northland.
“Significant work has been undertaken in the past year and we are starting to see the economic and social benefits of this across the region,” Mr Bridges says.
“The plan is moving forward in several key areas such as digital technology with more than $33 million being invested Northland’s ultra-fast broadband roll-out and the region’s digital enablement plan complete.
“It has also been successful in supporting young people. The Kaikohe Growth Industries Pathway program has a number of Northland youth on a pathway to employment, and the Tai Tokerau Resort College helping ensure there are skilled people to support the booming local tourism industry.”
Mr Guy says several initiatives that enable Northlanders involved in the primary sector to make the most of their businesses are making headway.
“Extension 350 is well underway. This new initiative sees clusters of dairy farms working together and receiving expert business direction advice.
“The Māori Forestry Collective for Tai Tokerau is now formed and the lessons from a completed prototype planting of 505 hectares will support the next phase of the group’s work.”
Mr Bridges says these are just a few examples of the work being done in the region.
“Now is a good time to take stock and reflect on the achievements made so far and to refresh the plan to ensure it still reflects Northland’s aspirations.”
For more information on the Regional Growth Programme, visit http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/regions-cities/regional-growth-programme.
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