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Earthquake reconstruction to drive New Zealand economy

(Xinhua)

14:20, August 16, 2012

WELLINGTON, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- The rebuilding of New Zealand's earthquake-battered Canterbury region will drive national economic growth for at least the next three years, a leading engineer and disaster expert said Thursday.

However, Canterbury businesses would continue to face uncertainty regarding insurance, future seismicity, demographics changes and when and where to rebuild, University of Canterbury College of Engineering researcher Erica Seville said.

Her overview of the Canterbury earthquakes and their economic and business outcomes was part of the first of a series of reports on the earthquakes and their impacts for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

The impact of the earthquakes on the Christchurch businesses was significant, Seville said in a statement.

"Estimates based on property damage place the combined cost of the Canterbury earthquakes at around 20 billion NZ dollars (16.14 billion U.S. dollars). This amount is the equivalent to approximately 10 percent of New Zealand's GDP," she said.

"As a comparison, the estimated cost of the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami is around 3 to 4 percent of Japan's annual GDP. While private insurers will bear a significant portion of the costs, the earthquakes have caused a notable deterioration of the government's operating deficit over the 2010-2011 year.

"However, the rebuild is getting underway in 2012 and will drive national investment and growth in the New Zealand economy through 2015. Prior to the September earthquake, the Christchurch CBD was the business and entertainment hub of the South Island," Seville said.

The area within the four avenues that effectively bordered the central city contained 6,000 businesses and more than 51,000 workers before the quakes, which began in September 2010.
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