TWM DROUGHT NZ, 1997- 98

Another assessment of the 97- 98 drought
Bankers' man strikes right note
NZ Herald  Monday, January 24 2000
[Abridged]
... BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander... recounted his personal journey to an appreciation of the relevance of the agricultural sector to New Zealand. In the heady, and ultimately doomed, 1980s sharemarket boom he bought into the mantra that New Zealand was going to forge ahead into vast new areas of production. The old reliance on farming would be left behind.
Those perceptions "took a fair old hit" with the drought which began in 1997. Mr Alexander credited himself with taking some notice of warnings from weather forecasters, but said it was some time before the impact of the drought on the rural sector became appreciated as a key weakness in the New Zealand economy.
As the Ministry of Agriculture noted in the recent post-election briefing papers, the drought had-cut farm gate income by nearly $1 billion and hacked 0.8 per cent off gross domestic product in 1997-98, 3 per cent in 1998-99 and 1 per cent in 1999-00. ...
"this sector is exceedingly relevant to New Zealand's economic cycle and the long term," said Mr Alexander.
..  farming and first-round processing, which make up 15.4 per cent of GDP, had still not come under threat from other sectors once viewed as possible sources of long-term growth... 61 per cent of merchandising exports were rurally based... the rural sector was still going to be the key source of export revenue and the key determinant for movements in the economy.


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