Border reopening a relief for business

25 November, 2021

Exporters will be queueing to get back into their Australian and international markets in January and February next year, predicts EMA Chief Executive, Brett O’Riley.

"Today’s announcement from COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins doing away with MIQ requirements to travel to Australia on January 17, and internationally from February 16, will be a huge relief to exporters and business-people effectively locked out of international travel because of the cumbersome and outdated MIQ system," he says.

"Exporters need to be meeting their customers face-to-face to build and maintain relationships and businesses need a free movement of their people to deal with international commitments and keep up with and swap ideas and trends.

"We’ve seen the damage to our members that extended lockdowns and absence from markets has caused and many businesses will be desperate to get back into those markets, repair the damage and rebuild the relationships and orders.

"The reopening is slower than many of our members would like but at least now they can start planning."

Mr O’Riley says the announcement may go some way to allaying concerns about the loss of international airline connections for both freight and passengers as some airlines had been considering dropping New Zealand routes because of the lingering uncertainty about New Zealand’s reopening as an international destination.

"It’s a cautious reopening but it also offers some respite for other under pressure sectors such as international education and limited tourism. It also means our manufacturers can get back overseas and carry out critical maintenance and commissioning work."

Mr O’Riley said one lingering area of concern was the ongoing skills shortages across many New Zealand businesses sectors.

"We need to act fast to reset our immigration criteria so we can meet those gaps while we begin the longer-term process of retraining and upskilling New Zealanders to meet those gaps.

"It also looks as if the MIQ exemption process to get skilled people into the country remains in place and that’s a little puzzling. That’s how we ended up letting sports teams in while failing to adequately resource our healthcare and critical care hospital systems.

Mr O’Riley also warned the process for reopening needed to go smoothly as Immigration, MBIE and Ministry of Health had all been under pressure and delays in getting appropriate systems, frameworks and Public Health Orders (PHOs) in place had been a frustrating and at times confusing process for business.

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