Perspectives from the Asia-Pacific
Edited by Matthew Tonts and M. A.B. Siddique
Chapter 4: Globalisation, Agriculture and Development: New Zealand’s Path to Prosperity?
Kenneth E. Jackson INTRODUCTION Agriculture has always been seen by many as the key feature of the New Zealand economy, and sometimes as the key to the essential nature and being of the society. To the degree that overemphasis of agriculture’s importance has been evident, it has been more due to the desire to portray New Zealand as a settler society, based on an agricultural and rural dominance, than to any social reality. The picture is, of course, more complex, with relatively sparse settlement and extensive farming systems characteristic of most rural areas, and a general disconnect between these landscapes and wider urban and national economic realities. It is true that underlying dictates of comparative advantage appear to have favoured primary production for much of New Zealand’s development, with attempts at protection and diversification into manufacturing and import substitution being as fashionable (and as unsuccessful) as they generally proved to be elsewhere. By the 1980s a return to open market dominance had occurred, accompanied by a rise in indicators such as the share of export income generated by the primary sector, and movements within the primary sector towards products offering a higher rate of return. Amongst the significant outcomes of this process were that the wool sector moved downwards in relative importance, whilst the dairy sector moved very strongly upwards. Much of the relative movement reflects a growing interaction with the global market and a shift towards high technology, as well as a concern for the quality and assurance of...
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