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OECD Economic Surveys: New Zealand 2017

image of OECD Economic Surveys: New Zealand 2017

New Zealand is enjoying strong economic growth, driven by booming tourism, high net immigration, solid construction activity and supportive monetary policy. The fiscal position is sound, with low public debt and a balanced budget. The major economic vulnerability emanates from high levels of household debt associated with rapid increases in house prices, which have reached high levels relative to fundamentals. Barriers to expanding housing supply are being reduced, and macro-prudential measures have been taken to contain financial stability risks, but further measures may be needed. While the short-term economic outlook is strong, there are longer-term challenges from low productivity growth, a changing labour market and some growing environmental pressures. Addressing these challenges would secure sustainable improvements in well-being for all New Zealanders.

SPECIAL FEATURES: IMPROVING PRODUCTIVITY; THE CHANGING LABOUR MARKET

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Improving productivity in New Zealand's economy

New Zealand ranks highly on most indicators of well-being, but incomes are below the OECD average due to low labour productivity. Low labour productivity is only partly explained by the industry composition of the NZ economy and is primarily a consequence of sustained low multi-factor productivity growth within industries, as well as weak investment. Economic geography is an important factor in New Zealand’s poor productivity performance, as the small size and remoteness of the economy diminish its access to global markets, the scale and efficiency of domestic businesses, the level of competition, and the ability to benefit from innovation at the global frontier. Policy and institutions are generally supportive of productivity growth, but there are a number of areas where there is scope for reforms that would help offset the country’s geographical disadvantages and improve the welfare of New Zealanders over the coming decades. This includes promoting international connections, removing barriers to fixed capital investment (including taxation), accessing benefits from agglomeration by improving urban planning and infrastructure provision, enhancing competition and increasing investment in innovation and intangibles.

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