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New Zealand Economic and Financial Overview 2012

Foreign Relations and External Trade

New Zealand foreign policy seeks to influence the international environment to promote New Zealand's interests and values, and to contribute to a stable, peaceful and prosperous world. In seeking to make its voice heard abroad, New Zealand aims to advance and protect both its security and prosperity interests.

Trade is essential to New Zealand's economic prosperity. Exports of goods and services make up over 30% of GDP. Australia, China, the United States, Japan and the ASEAN group of countries are major trading partners. While New Zealand exports a broad range of products, it remains reliant on exports of commodity-based products as a main source of export receipts and relies on imports of raw materials and capital equipment for industry.

New Zealand is committed to a multi-track trade policy which includes the following measures:

  • multilateral trade liberalisation through the World Trade Organisation (WTO);
  • regional co-operation and liberalisation through active membership of such fora as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the East Asian Summit;
  • a focus on building regional relationships through various policy initiatives; and
  • bilateral and plurilateral trade arrangements, such as:
    • the Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement with Australia (signed in 1984);
    • bilateral agreements with Singapore, Thailand, China, Malaysia and Hong Kong;
    • the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement with Singapore, Chile and Brunei, also known as P4;
    • the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement;
    • recently concluded negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council;
    • current negotiations with Korea, India and Russia;
    • current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to include the United States, Australia, Peru, Vietnam Malaysia and the original P4 countries; and
    • the PACER (Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations) Plus negotiations, with a focus on economic development within the Pacific.

New Zealand remains committed to a reduction of world-wide trade barriers. Tariffs have been systematically reduced and quantitative controls on imported goods eliminated. Currently around 95% of goods come into New Zealand tariff free, including all goods from Least Developed Countries.

New Zealand was active in laying the foundations for the Doha round of WTO negotiations. Agriculture and services are of prime importance to the New Zealand economy and agriculture, in particular, is central to the Doha negotiations. New Zealand will be working with other like-minded countries to reduce barriers to trade in goods and services and provide improved market access for New Zealand exporters.

New Zealand, as a member of APEC, is committed to achieving APEC's goals of free trade and investment in the region. Asia-Pacific regional linkages remain at the core of New Zealand's political and economic interests. The countries of APEC take more than 70% of New Zealand's exports. They provide 71% of New Zealand's tourist visitors and 74.5% of New Zealand's investment.

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