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New Zealand -- Hub Of The New Economy? 11 July 2000 Edition
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With my pending departure for pastures-green(er) in mind, I have been keeping a close eye on the development of the UAE's " 4 Internet City" in Dubai.

Quite frankly I think this is a *brilliant* idea!

Imagine if New Zealand was to do this -- create a new economic "cyberzone" which was corporate tax-free and which presented an environment in which technology developers and traders could set-up shop.

The inflow of foreign capital would be significant, the number of jobs created both in the skilled technical area and also in other less skilled areas related to the provision of services such as cleaning, food, building, etc would be enormous.

New Zealand's position on the edge of the international dateline would also offer some significant benefits for some companies involved in e-commerce, particularly the business-to-business players.

The government has already conceded that NZ is well positioned to be a hub for international call-centers -- so why not international e-1commerce?

Thanks to the influx of foreign capital, the cost to the UAE to develop its own "Internet City" appears to be 4 a paltry US$200m.

How much is our government spending on creating jobs and growing the economy? Would not building our own "Internet City" represent a far more effective method of creating long-term growth and firmly securing our foot-hold in the new economy?

The timing is perfect -- with the commissioning of the Southern Cross cable later this year ensuring that we are well equipped with the bandwidth required to support a serious concentration of hi-tech Net-based enterprises on these shores.

But could we compete against the UAE and its Internet City?

You bet! After all, the Gulf area is a potentially unstable part of the world and that becomes a significant risk if you're basing a business there. New Zealand is also a more European country with the many "comforts" that such an environment offers US and other players. Even from a lifestyle perspective -- lush bush, alpine skiing and a temperate climate makes it far easier to recruit staff than does thousands of miles of scorched desert sand.

Now I'm the first to admit that I'm no economist -- but I'd love to hear from those who might know better why New Zealand can't simply outsmart the UAE at its own game.

Of course I realise that no socialist government could ever, for even an instant, even remotely consider the suggestion of a "tax-free" business environment -- even if it meant more jobs for Kiwis, securing the country's long-term future in the new economy, and massive amounts of foreign investment.

But what are the real reasons it wouldn't work?

You tell me.

Other links:

France Leap-Frogs Ahead
While our government plays penny-politics with funding of the new economy so critical to our future, the French government has announced that it is about to pour some NZ$1 billion into developing its own Net infrastructure and fostering greater awareness and use.

N'uff said.

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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