CLOSING Auckland’s port will increase the total cost of imports by between NZ $533m and $626m a year, a report states.

The study, carried out by economic consultancy NZIER, examines what would happen if Auckland’s port was closed and freight had to be delivered to Auckland from other ports.

An argument is currently underway on the other side of the Tasman on whether to shift the port, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern quoted by the New Zealand Herald as confirming that her Cabinet was in agreement that it “is not viable” for the North Island’s main port to remain in Auckland”.

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But the study quoted by Ports of Auckland found “multiple negative regional and national impacts” such as more than NZ$1.2bn a year in reduced GDP nationally, fewer exports and less investment.

Increased carbon emissions were also cited, because freight would have to travel further by land to reach in Auckland.

Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said while people claimed closing Auckland’s port would not increase prices, “this is not true”.

“Currently, the price of imports through distant ports like Tauranga is kept low by competition,” he said.

“I am also very concerned about the increase in carbon emissions that would be caused by using distant ports to handle Auckland’s freight,” he said.

“This does not seem to be in line with the aims of the Zero Carbon Act, nor does it seem wise given the urgent need to tackle climate change.”

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