New Zealand’s imports totaled US$42.2 billion in 2019, up by 15.7% since 2015 but down by -3.4% from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the New Zealand dollar has depreciated by -5.9% against the US dollar since 2015 and declined by -5% from 2018 to 2019. New Zealand’s weaker local currency makes its imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive when converted starting from the US dollar.
From a continental perspective, 53.3% of New Zealand’s total imports by value in 2019 were purchased from Asian countries. European trade partners supplied 20.8% 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 11.9%, 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 5 million people, its total $42.2 billion in 2019 imports translates to roughly $8,400 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 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into New Zealand.
- Machinery including computers: US$6.1 billion (14.5% of total imports)
- Vehicles: $5.6 billion (13.4%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $4.7 billion (11.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $3.5 billion (8.4%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $1.5 billion (3.6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.3 billion (3.1%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $964.2 million (2.3%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $872.9 million (2.1%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $856.5 million (2%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $836.4 million (2%)
New Zealand’s top 10 imports accounted for almost two-thirds (62.4%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Imported optical, technical and medical apparatus posted the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories thanks to a 7.5% increase from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving import purchases were articles of iron or steel via a 1.7% uptick, trailed by imported machinery including computers (up 1.3%).
Leading the declining import categories were mineral fuels including oil (down -11.8%) and vehicles (down -9.9%).
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 2019, New Zealand importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Turbo-jets: US$1.1 billion (up 31.7% from 2018)
- Computers, optical readers: $933.1 million (down -0.6%)
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $321.4 million (down -25.4%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $202.6 million (down -0.3%)
- Machinery parts: $187.8 million (up 1.9%)
- Printing machinery: $184.1 million (down -2.4%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $174 million (up 8.9%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $169.3 million (down -8.8%)
- Air conditioners: $167 million (up 8.9%)
- Harvest/threshing machinery: $158.5 million (down -10.2%)
Among these import subcategories, New Zealand’s purchases of turbo-jets (up 31.7%), centrifuges, filters and purifiers (up 8.9%) then air conditioners (also up 8.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
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 2019, New Zealand importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$3.2 billion (down -9.9% from 2018)
- Trucks: $1.2 billion (down -10.1%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $363.3 million (down -1.8%)
- Tractors: $294 million (down -15.6%)
- Trailers: $177.5 million (up 1.3%)
- Motorcycles: $150.1 million (up 23.6%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $60.2 million (down -4.1%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $54 million (down -62.9%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $44.3 million (up 11.1%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $43.5 million (down -10%)
Among these import subcategories, New Zealand’s purchases of motorcycles (up 23.6%), motorcycle parts or accessories (up 11.1%) then trailers (up 1.3%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
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 2019, New Zealand importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Crude oil: US$2.8 billion (down -4.4% from 2018)
- Processed petroleum oils: $1.8 billion (down -21%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $60.8 million (down -33.1%)
- Petroleum gases: $20.3 million (up 38.3%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $13.1 million (up 39.2%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $8 million (up 99.5%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $6.2 million (down -8.6%)
- Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes: $2.9 million (down -11.4%)
- Peat: $2.9 million (up 20.3%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $892,000 (down -93.9%)
Among these import subcategories, New Zealand’s purchases of coke and semi-coke (up 99.5%), coal including solid fuels made from coal (up 39.2%) then petroleum gases (up 38.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
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 2019, 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 (down -3.7% from 2018)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $250.9 million (down -4%)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $198.7 million (up 0.5%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $194.8 million (up 1.4%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $168.2 million (up 1%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $156.5 million (up 2.2%)
- Microphones/headphones/amps: $145.5 million (up 14.9%)
- TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras: $116.5 million (up 7.1%)
- Unrecorded sound media: $99.4 million (down -13.9%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $87.9 million (up 18.6%)
Among these import subcategories, New Zealand’s purchases of electrical or optical circuit boards and panels (up 18.6%), microphones, headphones and amplifiers (up 14.9%) then TV receivers, transmitters and digital cameras (up 7.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
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
Central Intelligence Agency, The World FactbookCountry Profiles. Accessed on February 1, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 1, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 1, 2020
Wikipedia, List of companies of New Zealand. Accessed on February 1, 2020