Price War Alert: New Zealand Removes Barriers to Foreign Building Products to Reduce Prices


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The New Zealand government has recently taken a significant step to address the rising costs of construction in the country. New Zealand removes barriers to foreign building, and with expenses soaring by 41% since 2019, it’s clear that action is needed to make housing more affordable for Kiwis.

The New Zealand building industry is facing significant challenges, including soaring building costs and material shortages. The global increase in material prices and domestic supply chain disruptions, such as the shortage of plasterboard in 2022, have exacerbated these issues.

The Cost Surge and Red Tape

Building a home in New Zealand has become increasingly challenging and expensive. The surge in costs can be attributed to various factors, including the rising prices of materials. But there’s another culprit: red tape. The cumbersome approval process for new building products has stifled innovation and competition, leading to higher prices and supply chain disruptions.

New Zealand Removes Barriers to Foreign Building Products

New Zealand Removes Barriers

In response to the pressing challenges faced by the New Zealand building industry, the coalition government has taken decisive action to address the escalating costs of construction. One key aspect of this strategy involves the removal of barriers to foreign building products, aiming to inject much-needed competition into the market and improve affordability for homeowners and developers alike.

To facilitate this endeavor, the government has announced three significant changes to the Building Act. Firstly, New Zealand will now recognize building product standards from trusted overseas jurisdictions. This means that designers and builders will no longer need to individually verify standards, streamlining the approval process and reducing bureaucratic hurdles. By acknowledging standards established in reputable international markets, such as those in Australia or Europe, New Zealand can ensure access to a broader range of quality building materials.

Secondly, building consent authorities will accept products that comply with specific overseas standards that are deemed equivalent to or higher than those in New Zealand. This shift represents a departure from the previous strict adherence to domestic standards and opens the door to a more diverse array of building materials. 

Finally, the government will approve building products certified through reputable foreign schemes. For example, products certified under the Australian WaterMark scheme, which adheres to rigorous quality and safety standards, will receive official approval for use in New Zealand. This means that Kiwis can immediately access a wide range of products—over 200,000, in the case of the WaterMark scheme—that have already been vetted and approved by trusted international certification bodies.

Impact on NZ Building Industry, Economic Condition, and Foreign Countries

The government’s initiative is expected to have several implications:

  • NZ Building Industry:

The recent changes announced by the New Zealand government carry significant implications. By streamlining bureaucratic processes and promoting the adoption of innovative building products, the country seeks to achieve a dual objective: reducing construction expenses while maintaining high-quality standards. As a result, both builders and homeowners can anticipate a wider array of choices and more competitive pricing options.

With the removal of barriers to foreign building products, there’s a promising prospect of injecting much-needed competition into the domestic market. This could lead to tangible benefits such as potential price reductions and an enriched diversity of available products. However, the successful implementation of recognizing overseas accreditation industries becomes pivotal to ensuring seamless compliance with local regulations and standards.

  • Economic Implications: 
New Zealand removes barriers

The building and construction sector stands as a cornerstone of New Zealand’s economy, demonstrating substantial growth in recent years. Over the past five years, its contribution to the country’s GDP has surged by an impressive 18%. Despite the formidable challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector has showcased remarkable resilience, with building activity remaining robust. This resilience is evidenced by sustained high levels of building consent numbers and a continuously expanding workforce.

Lowering building costs holds the potential to invigorate the construction sector even further, spurring increased investment, job creation, and overall economic growth. With improved accessibility to affordable building materials, more individuals will likely be incentivized to venture into property development, thus amplifying economic activity in the sector.

  • Effects on Foreign Countries:

New Zealand’s decision to recognize overseas building products could benefit foreign suppliers, particularly those from trusted jurisdictions. Increased exports of building materials could strengthen trade relations and promote economic cooperation between New Zealand and other countries.

Diversity and Innovation

The industry is evolving. Emerging trends include smart buildings, 3D printing, and engineered living materials. These innovations promise to reduce emissions, enhance efficiency, and improve worker safety. The report also highlights a more diverse workforce, with Māori, Pacific, and Asian ethnicities contributing significantly.

Challenges Ahead

While the changes are promising, execution matters. Recognizing overseas accreditation industries correctly is critical. New Zealand Building Industry Federation CEO Julien Leys emphasizes the need for careful implementation. Although more products will eventually become available, translating that into lower costs will take time.

A Global Perspective

By embracing foreign building products, New Zealand positions itself as an attractive partner for international trade. It fosters stronger connections with other countries and demonstrates openness to collaboration. As the industry adapts, Kiwis can look forward to a more affordable and innovative building landscape.

To summarize, New Zealand’s commitment to breaking down barriers is a bold step toward a brighter future for homeowners, builders, and the country as a whole. Let’s build together, with quality, affordability, and sustainability at the forefront.

We invite you to share your thoughts with us regarding how New Zealand removes barriers to foreign building products, aiming to reduce construction costs. Does this idea work? What are your prospects for this New Zealand decision? We’d love to hear your insights and opinions on these topics. Share your opinion in the comments below.


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