Drivers and opportunities

Underpinned by its rich natural resource base, the New England-North West region continues to prosper from its successful agricultural sector and from significant growth in mining and associated industries, including engineering and fabrication services. Ongoing investment from Japan, China and America has helped support the development of new regional infrastructure and employment opportunities in the region, particularly in mining and agriculture.

Improvements to the region's transport networks are ongoing, with projects such as the New England Highway upgrade (funded by the NSW Government) set to make a major impact. These works will complement the already well-serviced road, rail and air connections in the region, which link the New England-North West region to major Australian markets and export ports.

Education and Training, and Health Care and Social Assistance are the primary employers in Armidale and Tamworth (respectively). Continued growth is expected in both these sectors. This in line with population growth and a strengthening education export sector.

Recent trade agreements with Japan and Korea will see tariffs on some agri-products reduced or eliminated. This will provide greater export opportunity for the region, particularly for those rural Local Government Areas (LGAs) where agriculture is the largest industry of employment.

The agribusiness industry could also benefit from a rising demand for agricultural commodities from Asia (the 'dining boom'), particularly beef.

Continued improvements in freight productivity and reduced costs will also help to boost the region's competitiveness. The proposed route for the Inland Rail project, connecting Melbourne to Brisbane, is set to include Narrabri and Moree. It is designed to enhance the existing national rail network and serve the interstate freight market.