An island nation in the southwestern Pacific Ocean located to the southeast of Australia, New Zealand shipped US$38.2 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects an 11.2% gain since 2015 but a -4.1% dip from 2018 to 2019. That figure represents roughly 0.2% of overall global exports estimated at $19.285 trillion one year earlier for 2018 (calculated as of February 2020).
Applying a continental lens, 58.3% of New Zealand’s exports by value in 2019 were delivered to Asian countries while 15.5% were sold to fellow Oceanian importers led by neighboring Australia. New Zealand shipped another 11.2% worth of goods to North America with 9.9% delivered in Europe. Smaller percentages of New Zealand’s exported goods arrived in Africa (2.6%) then Latin America (1.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
New Zealand’s Top 15 Trade Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of New Zealand’s top trade partners, countries that imported the most shipments by dollar value from New Zealand during 2019. Also shown is each trade partner’s percentage of total New Zealand exports.
- China: US$11 billion (28.8% of New Zealand’s total exports)
- Australia: $5.2 billion (13.6%)
- United States: $3.6 billion (9.4%)
- Japan: $2.3 billion (6%)
- South Korea: $1.1 billion (2.9%)
- United Kingdom: $953.1 million (2.5%)
- Hong Kong: $810.3 million (2.1%)
- Taiwan: $770.2 million (2%)
- Malaysia: $695.7 million (1.8%)
- Indonesia: $685.8 million (1.8%)
- Singapore: $677.8 million (1.8%)
- Thailand: $642 million (1.7%)
- Philippines: $564.6 million (1.5%)
- Germany: $543.8 million (1.4%)
- Vietnam: $523.4 million (1.4%)
Over three-quarters (78.6%) of New Zealand exports in 2019 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
From 2018 to 2019, gains were led by China (up 14%), Vietnam (up 8.2%) then the Philippines (up 6.1%).
Declines were led by importers in the Singapore (down -23.1%), nearby trade partner Australia (down -18.3%) then the United Kingdom (down -11.2%).
New Zealand incurred an overall -$4 billion trade deficit in 2019 encompassing all countries, up 3.5% from the -$3.9 billion in red ink one year earlier.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
New Zealand incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- Germany: -US$1.8 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2019)
- United Arab Emirates: -$1.3 billion
- Thailand: -$1.1 billion
- Italy: -$719.6 million
- Malaysia: -$646.4 million
- United States: -$639.2 million
- France: -$555.6 million
- Singapore: -$538.0 million
- South Korea: -$508.9 million
- Japan: -$467.7 million
Among New Zealand’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, New Zealand’s deficits with Germany (up 12.8%), United States (up 6.6%) and Italy (up 5.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate New Zealand’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for New Zealand to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
In 2019, New Zealand earned the highest trade surpluses at the expense of the following countries.
- China: US$2.5 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2019)
- Hong Kong: $745.5 million
- Philippines: $469.3 million
- Australia: $308.9 million
- Algeria: $271.7 million
- Sri Lanka: $229.3 million
- Egypt: $191.7 million
- Taiwan: $187.7 million
- Fiji: $184 million
- Saudi Arabia: $156.6 million
Among New Zealand’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, New Zealand’s surpluses with Saudi Arabia (up 459.8%), China (up 145.6%) and Philippines (up 8.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate New Zealand’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for New Zealand to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing New Zealand Trade Partners
Not one New Zealand-based corporation ranks among the Forbes Global 2000.
The NZX50 Index is the main stock market index for New Zealand. Based on that index, the following companies are among leading stock companies in New Zealand that have the highest capitalization values.
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (financial services)
- Coats Group PLC (sewing supplies, zippers, fasteners)
- Kathmandu Holdings Limited (outdoor clothing, equipment)
- Mainfreight Limited (logistics, transportation)
- Nuplex Industries Limited (resins for decorative/industrial/protective coatings)
- Steel & Tube Holdings Limited (building materials)
- The a2 Milk Company Limited (dairy products)
See also New Zealand’s Top 10 Exports and New Zealand’s Top 10 Imports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World FactbookCountry Profiles. Accessed on February 1, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 1, 2020