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10/8/2018 — Economics, Politics and Government
Trade wars a concern for Robertson

Finance Minister Grant Robertson told a conference on Wednesday that international trade wars, a local skilled worker shortage and the Government's agenda are impacting business confidence.

He told the Auckland KangaNews NZ Debt Capital Markets Summit that businesses had expressed concern about trade protectionism and geopolitical tensions abroad.

“The Stuff media group reported concern about the international picture was something Robertson said he shared and which the Government “will continue to monitor.”

And there were aspects of the New Zealand Government's agenda business owners disagreed with, he reportedly said.

Tariff restrictions, China's slowing economy and international tensions were risks that would affect New Zealand if they developed further. Robertson said a lack of access to skilled staff was the number one issue businesses raised with him as he travelled around the country.

He said immigration would continue to play a part in filling skills gaps.

He saw good signs from key economic indicators from which business should take encouragement.

Robertson said NZ's terms of trade and stock market were near a record highs, building consents were up 7.5% in the June quarter, business investment climbed 5.5% in the latest GDP data and 94,000 more people were employed in the year to the end of June.

New Zealand exports would continue to grow, helped by a free trade deal NZ recently signed with the European Union. However, the Dominion Post reported business confidence has been taking a dive since the change of Government.

Last week the ANZ business outlook for July showed a net 45% of businesses were pessimistic about the general outlook for the economy, the most downbeat reading in the monthly survey since May 2008.

But, the newspaper said that on Tuesday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there was no cause for concern and pointed to economic indicators which suggested the economy was in good shape.

Core Crown expenses were $400 million below forecasts and the labour market was stronger than expected, with unemployment falling to 4.4%.

Source: stuff.co.nz/dominion-post

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Finance Minister Craig Robertson.