Port continues to be regional economic anchor-point

Port Taranaki remains a vital element in the regional economy despite ups and downs in its key freight commodities, a new economic assessment report shows.

Its important role as a business enabler is shown in estimates that its users will generate $353 million for the regional GDP this year and more than 900 jobs, say report authors Mark Cox and Konrad Hurren of Business and Economic Research Ltd (BERL). 

“The port also plays an important role in other ways,” the authors say, listing its importance to regional exporters and importers, its dividends that offset regional rates and its sponsorship and support of sporting and other social activities. The Port is 100% owned by the Taranaki Regional Council on behalf of the people of the region. The Council received $4.9 million in dividends last financial year.

The report notes that the port’s cargo mix has changed markedly in the past five years. “Oil and gas exploration and development activities have decreased, and this has affected the port. There is no longer any container traffic through the port,” the authors say. “On the other hand, the volume of logs exported has increased, as has the volume of animal feedstuffs.”

The port’s own operations will generate an estimated $28 million for the regional GDP this year and generate almost 320 full-time jobs. This is the third economic assessment since 2007 and its economic impact has varied upwards and downwards over that time. This “somewhat complex finding” reflects variations in oil price, the changing mix of cargoes and changes in the mix and activities of port users and service providers.

“Despite its ups and downs, however, the port remains a key part of the Taranaki economy and it is likely to remain so,” the authors say.

Council Chairman David MacLeod, who is also a director of Port Taranaki Ltd, says the report confirms the port’s central role in the region. “Its economic and strategic importance is front and centre of our thinking and decision-making,” he says.