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New Zealand: An Overview (continued)

Social Framework

New Zealand has a high degree of social and political stability and a modern social welfare system which includes universal entitlement to primary and secondary education and subsidised access to health services for all residents. The population is mainly European with around 77% of residents designating themselves as being of European descent, 15% as New Zealand Māori, 7% as Pacific Islanders, 10% as Asian and 1% as other. (Note: Census respondents are able to give multiple responses to ethnicity questions, hence the number of responses is greater than the total population). There is a high incidence of intermarriage among these groups. The majority of Europeans are of British descent, while the New Zealand Māori are of the same ethnic origin as the indigenous populations of Tahiti, Hawaii and several other Pacific Islands. In recent years there has been an increasing level of immigration from Asian countries.

The Treaty of Waitangi

The Treaty of Waitangi is regarded as a founding document of New Zealand. First signed at Waitangi on 6 February 1840, the Treaty is an agreement between Māori and the British Crown and affirms for Māori their status as the indigenous people of New Zealand.

The Treaty comprises three articles. The first grants to the Queen of England the right to "govern" New Zealand while the second article guarantees Māori possession of their lands, forests, fisheries and other resources. The third and final article gives Māori all the citizenship rights of British subjects. There are outstanding claims by Māori that the Crown has breached the Treaty, particularly the guarantees under the second article. Since 1992, the Government has developed processes and polices to enable the Crown and Māori to settle any Treaty of Waitangi claim relating to events before September 1992.

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 New Zealand's GDP. New Zealand's trade interests are well diversified. Australia, China, North America, the European Union and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) take between around 10% and 25% each of New Zealand's goods exports. Other major trading partners include Japan and Korea.

While New Zealand exports a broad range of products, it is reliant on exports of commodity-based products as the 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 (in force since 1983);
  • bilateral agreements with Singapore, Thailand, China, Malaysia and Hong Kong;
  • the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (previously known as P4) with Singapore, Chile and Brunei;
  • the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement;
  • the New-Zealand Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Free Trade Agreement;
  • the Chinese Taipei Agreement on Economic Co-operation;
  • current negotiations with Korea, India and the customs union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus;
  • current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to include Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States, Vietnam and the original P4 countries; and
  • current negotiations on RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) which involve the ten members of ASEAN, China, India, Korea, Japan and Australia.

New Zealand remains committed to a reduction of world-wide trade barriers. Tariffs have been systematically reduced and quantitative controls on imported goods eliminated. Around 90% 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 is 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, provide 71% of tourism arrivals and account for around 75% of New Zealand's foreign direct investment.

Membership in International Economic Organisations

New Zealand is a long-standing member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the WTO.

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