Joyce warns Asian tech investors view NZ as "hobbits and food"

Steven Joyce said more had to be done to tell the country's technology stories overseas.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has warned more needs to be done to promote New Zealand as a tech hub to investors in Asia because they mainly view the country as a food producer and film location.

Speaking in Wellington at the launch of a report showcasing the value of the technology sector to the New Zealand economy, Joyce said more had to be done to tell the country's technology stories overseas.

"I had a discussion with Singapore investors around NZ as a tech hub and they're still thinking of us as hobbits and food," he said. "We've got a long way to go to explain the story in some markets". He added that the US was much better in its view of the country's tech industry.

The report, 'Digital Nation New Zealand: From Tech Sector to Digital Nation', says the technology sector provided 9 percent of New Zealand's exports in 2015, employing 5 percent of the national workforce or just under 100,000 people. Those employed in the industry are amongst the most highly paid and highest qualified of all sectors of the economy.

In his remarks at the launch, Joyce also argued more needed to be done to attract foreign capital to invest in the country's technology industry.

"We have to get to a stage where we're telling a more consistent story offshore and dragging more of the international venture capitalists to New Zealand who are in more of a specialist space. He added that industry specialists were willing to come. "There's a lot of interest being shown in New Zealand and the emerging tech story and we've got to find a way to harness that proactively".

Joyce also said that technology was now instrumental in almost all areas of New Zealand business. "Last week at Fieldays, it has become an Agri-tech expo. It's all about precision agriculture now which is amazing stuff which brings that balance about productivity vs commodities".

The tech sector contributes $16.2 billion to New Zealand's gross domestic product, the report says.


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