New Zealand Looking for Investment During Rugby World Cup 2011

August 24, 2011

New Zealand will use its six weeks as host of the Rugby World Cup 2011 as an opportunity to attract global investment the tournament Minister Murray McCully said.

One of the areas identified was to broaden exports to help its economy recover from the deadliest earthquake in 80 years.

New Zealand plans to promote its most lucrative products during the Sept. 9-Oct. 23 event to an expected 95,000 fans, business people and media who descend on the South Pacific nation, McCully said in an interview in Wellington. The campaign is part of a longer-term plan to boost foreign earnings to 40 percent of gross domestic product from about 30 percent, he said.

McCully, who is Minister for Foreign Affairs along with the Rugby World Cup, said: “Despite the economic times, it’s a matter of us just being focused enough to make the most of an opportunity that really is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

New Zealand, which has more land mass than the U.K. and one-fourteenth its population, is hosting rugby’s most prestigious event a year after the first in a series of quakes that struck Christchurch, killing more than 180 and leaving the nation’s second-biggest city with a $16.7 billion repair bill. The country’s dollar has climbed more than 20 percent over the same period, peaking at a record-high near 88 U.S. cents last month.

The surging currency may prevent the nation’s tourist industry, which vies with dairy as the largest, from reaping long-term benefits from hosting the tournament, the central bank said in a report last week. It estimated that fans will spend about $580 million on local goods and services.

“The dollar is making it tough for all the foreign- exchange earning sectors of the New Zealand economy,” said McCully, 58. “It’s not just a question of how we perform. The fortunes of other economies — particularly large ones — reflect themselves in our exchange rate as well.”

New Zealand is promoting 16 export markets during the tournament, McCully said. They will include industries such as film-making, fashion, information technology and boat-building, along with more traditional exports such as food and wine.

The effort will target touring investors including corporations and sovereign wealth funds, as well as promoting the country through visiting media, McCully said. New Zealand’s geographic location was previously a disadvantage as it isolated the country from its main trading partners, McCully said. That’s changed in recent years, he said.

“We live in the Asia-Pacific century, and our major strategic disadvantage has become our major strategic advantage,” McCully said. “We sit on the rim of the Asia- Pacific region where all those Asian economic powerhouses are going to be the center of world economic growth for as far ahead as we can see.”