10 things you need to know to do business in New Zealand

New Zealand ranks first in the world according to the “Doing Business 2020”, a report that compares 190 economies about business regulations, protection of investments, contracts or insolvencies.

If you are thinking about exporting to New Zealand, find out this 10 facts that will help you navigate in your international process:


1. In 1893 New Zealand becomes world’s first country to give women the vote

It is deemed the freest country in the world, according to the “Human Freedom Index 2019”, a report that analyses personal, civil and economic freedoms.


2. OECD member since 1973

GDP per capita was $42,084 in 2019 and its population reached 4.91 million inhabitants. During the period 2014-2019 GDP increased at an average annual rate of 3, 3%. In 2019 Public Expenditure was 30, 9% of GDP and the inflation rate was 1, 62%.


3. Large food exporter

With regard to foreign trade, New Zealand was the 56 largest exporting economy in 2019, with a total of $38.18 billion, followed by Greece (57) and behind Colombia (55). In 2019, the top 5 New Zealand exports with 39 % out of the total, were:

  • 15 % Milk and cream, concentrated or containing added sugar or other sweetening matter
  • 7 % Meat of sheep or goats, fresh, chilled or frozen
  • 6 % Butter, incl. dehydrated butter and ghee, and other fats and oils derived from milk; dairy
  • 6 % Wood in the rough, whether or not stripped of bark or sapwood, or roughly squared
  • 5 % Meat of bovine animals, frozen


4. Imports

In 2019 imports reached $42.32 billion and the trade balance deficit stood at $4.14 billion. The following 5 product groups represent 24 % out of total New Zealand imports:

  • 8 % Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons
  • 7 % Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude
  • 4 % Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excluding crude)
  • 3 % Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab
  • 3 % Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks


5. First developed country to negotiate an FTA with China

Regarding bilateral agreements, New Zealand has 12 existing regional trade treaties, at the date of this publication. Its main trading partners are China, which represents 24 % of exchanges, followed by Australia with 13 % of exchanges and USA with 10 % of exchanges.


6. Foreign direct investment

During the period 2016-2019, foreign direct investment (FDI) received by New Zealand reached the average annual figure of $2.51 billion.


7. Service Trade Balance surplus

Exports of services rose by an average annual rate of 3, 59% in the period 2014-2019, from $14.59 to $17.22 billion. In 2019, Service trade balance surplus stood at $2.84 billion in 2019.


8. Low unemployment rate and high demand of skilled workers

In 2019 the unemployment rate was 4, 07% and the adult minimum wage rate is 756 NZ dollars before tax for a 40 hour week.


9. Renewable energy sources

80% out of total electrical energy produced in 2015, came from renewable energy sources (hydroelectric, geothermal fields and biomass). New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pledged to achieve 100% renewable energy in the country by 2030 if her party wins re-election in October.


10. Space race

In 2017, Rocket Lab, an American rocket company founded in New Zealand in 2006, launched its first test rocket into space from the Mahia Peninsula, on the east coast of the North Island. New Zealand belongs to the group of countries that have carried out a space launch.


Need more information about the market, please contact me xavireverter@exportwings.com

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New Zealand Key Market Takeaways ExporWings

Data from 2019, other years are stated.

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Photo: Auckland, New Zealand, by Samuel Ferrara on Unsplash

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