For the first time in Auckland's history we have the unified vision and plans in place to both accommodate and capitalise on growth.
We are home to a third of New Zealand's population, a third of the country's paid workforce, and more than 60 per cent of New Zealand's top 200 companies. Auckland generates 35 per cent of New Zealand's GDP and accounts for 41 per cent of foreign direct investment. More than 75 per cent of all visitors to New Zealand arrive at our airport and 40 per cent of all exports and imports pass through our airport and seaport combined.
Auckland is rapidly maturing as the international city New Zealand needs it to be, a city that can compete on an equal footing with cities like Sydney, Los Angeles, and Singapore.
Domestically, we can and must complement New Zealand's other main centres, and provide the economic gateway, drive and connections that the rest of the country needs.
Unifying Auckland has not been without its challenges, but it offers all New Zealanders vast opportunities, and Auckland is finally well-positioned to realise those opportunities.
First off the bat, we created the Auckland Plan -- a shared vision for what we need to do to make Auckland a success for our people, our businesses and our environment.
Following on from that is the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, which when completed, will be New Zealand's biggest resource management plan. It will be the main regulatory tool to implement the Auckland Plan.
We have got the Government to agree to a fast-tracked process, because the speed of growth in Auckland doesn't allow us 10 years to set rules that are needed right now.
We are also well underway implementing the Auckland Economic Development Strategy, taking its lead from the shared vision, and driving a greater degree of co-operation between the council, Government, industry, commerce and community organisations.
Auckland is finally getting the joined-up, long-term planning it needs in order to succeed. Part of that joined-up thinking is recognising the critical importance of strong partnerships with the Government, private and community sectors. Those partnerships are showing results in areas such as housing, transport and youth employment.
What we need to do to keep Auckland moving - our workers, students and tourists, our commercial vehicles and our strategic freight - and how we are collectively prepared to fund the solutions to our transport woes are questions we will be asking Aucklanders in the New Year.
Another important proposal we will be putting to Aucklanders is the new urban development agency, Development Auckland, to be created by combining Waterfront Auckland and Auckland Council Properties.
The new agency can build on recent group successes, like models and partnerships forged for the redevelopment of Auckland's waterfront, and its international connections.
Auckland's growing global profile and its increasing investment appeal are becoming more and more evident.
Three of China's "big four" banks are establishing themselves in Auckland, and we are seeing large-scale investment like the $250m commitment from the Beijing-based Fu Wah Group, working with Waterfront Auckland and Hyatt Hotels to create a five-star hotel at Wynyard Quarter.
The world-first tri-city Tripartite Economic Alliance will forge closer links with two Asia-Pacific economic giants, sister Super Cities Los Angeles and Guangzhou, which both boast city GDPs larger than our national GDP.
This is the calibre of the international partners that are looking at Auckland, our future plans, and the business support our agencies, like Ateed, can provide.
The importance of our global position lies in the need to internationalise the Auckland economy. This means a fundamental shift from a domestically focused Auckland economy, towards an export focused economy.
Currently, Auckland largely produces goods and services for its own internal consumption, as well as for the wider New Zealand economy. This limits Auckland's growth to New Zealand's growth rate. If we want to go faster and truly lead the New Zealand economy, the only realistic answer is to export and couple Auckland to faster growing international markets.
Becoming export focused requires a fundamental change to the structure of Auckland's business structure. That requires investment in people and plant. New Zealand's relatively low savings rate means that much of this investment needs to be funded from overseas and that is what we are chasing through initiatives like the Tripartite Alliance.
The resulting challenge is ensuring our local business community takes advantage of the international connections and partnerships that are being forged.
We are safeguarding existing business land, securing new land for business growth and planning for transport links that help supply chain efficiency and help make businesses more accessible to their customer and employees.
We are committed to reducing the proportion of rates paid by business, with the business sector share of rates set to fall to 25.8 per cent by 2025/26 (down from the current contribution of 33.3 per cent).
The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan will provide business and the development community with greater certainty as well as smarter digital tools that are faster to use.
We are streamlining consents, standardising bylaws and fees, and changing the way we collect development contributions to more accurately reflect the costs of additional infrastructure and the size of the homes within a given development.
I am determined that the council remains absolutely focused on ensuring Auckland is a city that means business. It will continue to lead the vision, provide appropriate regulation, plan and invest in infrastructure to enable Auckland's businesses, landowners, institutions and people to do what they do best.