Working on value of dollar

Minister of Commerce Craig Foss (left), with Wanaka Chamber of Commerce president Leigh Stock, flew in from the North Island yesterday to be a keynote speaker at the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce annual conference being held at Edgewater hotel in Wanaka this week. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Minister of Commerce Craig Foss (left), with Wanaka Chamber of Commerce president Leigh Stock, flew in from the North Island yesterday to be a keynote speaker at the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce annual conference being held at Edgewater hotel in Wanaka this week. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Minister of Commerce Craig Foss insisted the Government was doing all it could to ease the impact of an overvalued New Zealand dollar, when he appeared as a keynote speaker at the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce Conference in Wanaka yesterday.

Mr Foss flew to Wanaka from the North Island for a brief appearance at the three-day conference, themed "Leading the Leaders", which began yesterday at Edgewater hotel in Wanaka.

"We are doing all we can to help businesses in New Zealand deal with an overrated exchange rate with the US dollar," he told the assembly of 48 delegates, representing 31 chambers nationwide.

Although reducing the New Zealand dollar's value was desirable, "practically, we cannot do it", he said.

"Every dollar spent defending what might seem an ideal level to help our exporters ... is one dollar at risk, which is not one dollar for a school, hospital, infrastructure, or any of those things.

"By and large, most companies in New Zealand actually managed their way through the whole situation. They've tightened their lines, they've tightened their margins, they're pretty lean and ready to fly once the economy starts to kick again."

He told the Otago Daily Times the Government understood the frustration the high value of the dollar caused, but was working hard with the things it could control, such as government accounts and spending, to keep interest rates and inflation low.

Former New Zealand cricketer Warren Lees and Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean will speak during today's programme.

This is the first time the Wanaka Chamber of Commerce has hosted the national conference.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz