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The future of supply chains is bleak…but so was the past

A container ship at sea

This finding in the issues paper for the Improving Economic Resilience is further explored in an op-ed published in the New Zealand Herald. Read the original version of the op-ed.

22 March 2023

As a small, open, and geographically distant economy, Aotearoa New Zealand has benefited from relying on supply chains for international trade for over 30 years. However, recent global events including the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, have seen continued and persistent disruptions to the supply chains that New Zealand businesses, industries, and communities rely on. 

In the Improving Economic Resilience Issues Paper, the Productivity Commission found that global trends around complex economic and socio-political factors indicate that New Zealand is likely to remain exposed to heightened risks of supply chain disruptions. 

This finding is further explored in the New Zealand Herald editorial The future of supply chains is bleak... but so was the past, based on the evidence presented through historian and economist Brian Easton’s analysis of historical supply chain disruptions in New Zealand from the 1900s. Easton’s research paper A New Zealand history of shocks was released alongside the Issues Paper and is accessible on the Commission’s website.

The Terms of Reference of the inquiry ask the Commission to complement existing work underway in government agencies by providing an independent view on resilience and identify policies and interventions that can enhance the resilience of New Zealand’s economy and living standards to persistent medium-term supply chain disruptions. Through the public consultation process, the Commission intends to gather views on four questions to help inform further analysis and shape the inqury’s recommendations.

  1. What supply chain disruptions and trends are you worried about?
  2. What is your industry/community currently doing or planning to do to address supply chain concerns?
  3. How can the government help to enhance the resilience of your industry/community to supply chain disruptions?
  4. What should the Commission study to learn more about the economic resilience of industries and communities?