Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand should rebuild the likes of its pharmaceutical industry and move away from relying so heavily on selling dairy products to China in the post-Covid world.
Speaking to Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB, Peters pushed back at globalisation and the "neo-liberal experiment" which he said had left us vulnerable to a crisis like this one.
He slammed the current structure of the New Zealand economy saying we were too reliant on Fonterra selling dairy to China.
"Anyone who thinks that post-Covid-19 will be business as usual can forget it. If they think we can go back to what we used do, they're wrong," he said.
"This is a new world we're facing we've all learnt a dramatic lesson here."
New Zealand had previously had strong domestic manufacturing industries like vehicle and pharmaceutical production.
While he acknowledged the cost of building cars was too much, we lost pharmaceutical companies when we decided to "leave it to the market, whatever that mythical beast might be", he said.
New Zealand had relied on exports ever since 1882 when the first frozen meat shipment was moved offshore.
"Instead of cultivating our exports and adding value here, we went into one product, namely milk, one company Fonterra and one buyer China."
Questioned on the validity of the idea that New Zealand had just one export product, Peters conceded there were others.
"Yeah we sell logs, that's right. No added value at all, in a raw state, to other countries that multiply its value three, four five, six times," he said. "That's madness. That's my point"
Peters rejected suggestions that his views were at odds with trade minister David Parker, who yesterday called for a return to more global free trade.
"No we're talking about free and fair trade," he said "Trade has always been something to foster."
New Zealand had always been an export nation.
"We live and die by exporting more than any other economy I know," Peters said. "What are we doing? Our exports have been in decline."