Joyce confident in hi-tech exporters, he says at launch of RAM's new facility

By David Porter

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Minister Steven Joyce opening the new TiDA/RAM complex at Tauriko 11 Nov 2016 Bay of Plenty Times Photograph by John Borren
Minister Steven Joyce opening the new TiDA/RAM complex at Tauriko 11 Nov 2016 Bay of Plenty Times Photograph by John Borren

Minister of Science and Technology Steven Joyce has massive confidence in the export sector and expects it to continue to do well regardless of the election of Donald Trump as the new American President.

"A lot of people worry about it, from an export perspective," he said at the opening of Rapid Advance Manufacturing's (RAM) hi-tech 3D metals printing facility in Tauriko Business Park on Friday.

Mr Joyce said it was up to Americans to choose their president, and the New Zealand Government respected their decision. Mr Joyce said he saw major opportunities all around the world for New Zealand exporters at the moment.

"I have massive confidence in the New Zealand export sector. We are small and we get to duck and weave and work the angles on how to succeed on the world stage. And generally we win, because we work out how best to approach it."

In a speech later in the day at the NZ Business Markets lunch, co-sponsored by the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, he amplified his comments on the American election, noting that while it would mean changes, nobody yet knew what these would be.

"That creates a little bit of uncertainty in the world, but I am actually really bullish about this country in that context," he said. "New Zealand post the GFC has done very well relative to the OECD, with growth this last year at 3.5 per cent."

The Reserve Bank was predicting similar growth for the next two years, he said. "If that comes to pass, New Zealand would be one of the strongest -performing OECD economies since the GFC."

The RAM opening was attended by about 60 people including clients and business supporters, as well as mayor Greg Brownless, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges and Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller.

Mr Bridges told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend the election result had been a surprise, and not what the polls had been predicting. But he said Mr Trump may prove better than expected.

"He made good comments on the night and he says he wants to bring people together," he said. "The wilder stuff from the campaign is not going to happen. And provided he gets good advice, the low expectations may be exceeded."

[sidebar]

Science and Technology Minister Steven Joyce told the Rapid Advanced Manufacturing (RAM) opening that it was an event he had insisted on attending.

"This [3D metals printing] technology is one great example of how clever Kiwi companies are. I am pretty excited about it."

RAM is the commercial 3D metals printing arm that has grown out of the research organisation Titanium Industry Development Association (TiDA). It was originally established in 2008, led by Warwick Downing, who is now chief executive of RAM.

RAM chairwoman Beppe Holm said the company's goal was to have 20 of the hi-tech 3D metals printing machines operating in the facility by 2020.

"We definitely have aspirations to grow, both to meet the demands of our existing customers and also to as we grow our customer base. Our goal is very much to become the leading Australasian provider of 3D printing using powdered metals."

Mr Downing said that people were very interested in the technology.

"3D printing originally created a lot of hype," he said.

"The hype is dying away and what we are seeing emerge is realism on what you really can do with it, and real products emerging. Companies are really starting to incorporate it as part of their production methodology instead of just one or two products and I think that's significant."

[Factbox]
Rapid Advanced Manufacturing (RAM)
-Specialises in producing parts by 3D additive printing techniques using metal powders including titanium and stainless steel.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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