New Zealand’s imports amounted to US$43.7 billion in 2018, up by 2.8% since 2014 and up by 8.8% from 2017 to 2018.
New Zealander imports represent a tiny 0.2% of overall global imports which totaled $17.788 trillion one year earlier in 2017 (calculated as of February 4, 2019).
From a continental perspective, 54.9% of New Zealand’s total imports by value in 2018 were purchased from Asian countries. European trade partners supplied 19.2% of import purchases by New Zealand while 12% worth of goods originated from fellow Oceanian nations led by Australia and Fiji. North American suppliers also accounted for 12%, well ahead of the 1.4% portion from Latin America (excluding Mexico) and the Caribbean plus the 0.6% from exporters in Africa.
Given New Zealand’s population of 4.5 million people as of July 2018, its total $43.7 billion in 2018 imports translates to roughly $9,600 in yearly product demand from every person in the Pacific Ocean island country.
New Zealand’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in New Zealand’s import purchases during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into New Zealand.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, New Zealand’s most valuable imported products are cars followed by crude oil, refined petroleum oils, trucks, mobile phones then computers.
- Vehicles: US$6.3 billion (14.4% of total imports)
- Machinery including computers: $6 billion (13.8%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $5.2 billion (12%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $3.5 billion (8.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $1.6 billion (3.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.2 billion (2.8%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $1 billion (2.3%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $871.3 million (2%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $861.9 million (2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $842.1 million (1.9%)
New Zealand’s top 10 imports accounted for almost two-thirds (63%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Imported mineral fuels including oil had the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories, up 38.5% from 2017 to 2018.
In second place for improving import purchases was aircraft and spacecraft via a 19% uptick, trailed by imported iron or steel articles (up 8.3%) then pharmaceuticals (up 7.3%).
Vehicles was the only declining top 10 import category, racking up a modest -0.9% setback.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under other virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.
In 2018, New Zealand importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$3.6 billion (down -6.7% from 2017)
- Trucks: $1.3 billion (up 1.6%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $370.2 million (up 8.6%)
- Tractors: $349 million (up 17.2%)
- Trailers: $175.4 million (up 1.4%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $144 million (up 112%)
- Motorcycles: $121.1 million (up 14.5%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $62.1 million (up 16%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $48.5 million (up 33%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $39.4 million (up 12.8%)
Among these import subcategories, New Zealand’s purchases of public-transport vehicles (up 112%), special purpose vehicles (up 33%) and tractors (up 17.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of vehicles-related imports among New Zealand businesses and consumers.
In 2018, New Zealand importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$940.1 million (up 2.9% from 2017)
- Turbo-jets: $812.5 million (up 1.5%)
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $432.2 million (up 10.8%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $203 million (up 8.2%)
- Printing machinery: $189.3 million (down -4.2%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $185.6 million (up 14%)
- Machinery parts: $184.4 million (up 18.2%)
- Harvest/threshing machinery: $175.8 million (up 3.7%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $159.9 million (up 4%)
- Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines: $156.6 million (down -5.9%)
Among these import subcategories, New Zealand’s purchases of machinery parts (up 18.2%), refrigerators and freezers (up 14%) and heavy machinery including bulldozers, excavators and road rollers (up 10.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of machinery-related imports including computers among New Zealand businesses and consumers.
In 2018, New Zealand importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Crude oil: US$2.9 billion (up 29.8% from 2017)
- Processed petroleum oils: $2.2 billion (up 51.3%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $91.2 million (up 64.4%)
- Petroleum gases: $14.6 million (up 40.7%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $14.3 million (up 44.6%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $9.3 million (up 21.4%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $6.8 million (up 6.4%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $3.9 million (down -19.1%)
- Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes: $3.3 million (down -26.7%)
- Peat: $2.4 million (down -2.1%)
Among these import subcategories, New Zealand’s purchases of petroleum oil residues (up 64.4%), processed petroleum oils (up 51.3%) and natural bitumen, asphalt or shale (up 44.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of mineral fuels-related imports among New Zealand businesses and consumers.
In 2018, New Zealand importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical goods including consumer electronics.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$1.2 billion (up 9.1% from 2017)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $260.4 million (down -0.8%)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $198.2 million (up 5.6%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $192.2 million (up 6.8%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $166.8 million (up 2.6%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $153.2 million (up 5%)
- Microphones/headphones/amps: $125.8 million (up 22.6%)
- Unrecorded sound media: $115.1 million (down -13.7%)
- TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras: $108.5 million (up 7%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $74 million (down -1.9%)
Among these import subcategories, New Zealand’s purchases of microphones, headphones or amplifiers (up 22.6%), phone system devices including smartphones (up 9.1%) and TV receivers, transmitters and digital cameras (up 7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of electronics-related imports among New Zealand businesses and consumers.
See also New Zealand’s Top Trade Partners, New Zealand’s Top 10 Exports and Top Oceanian Export Countries
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 4, 2019
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 4, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 4, 2019