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Executive summary

International Engagement by New Zealand Businesses presents key results from the Business Operations Survey (BOS) 2007, which collected data on the different types of international engagement by New Zealand businesses.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, information was collected to fill gaps in understanding about: 

  • the different profiles or business models of New Zealand businesses that export goods or services 
  • the factors behind their decisions to enter or exit exporting 
  • the nature and extent of cost or risk constraints they face 
  • the strategies used to engage in exporting and to address constraints 
  • the key factors or behaviours behind the success of exporters.

The collection of this information for BOS 2007 was chosen to coincide with other Export Year activities in 2007. The private sector reference group that worked with government to develop the programme for Export Year 2007 identified additional data on exporters as an important deliverable. The international connections and the export performance of New Zealand firms have been recognised as critical for New Zealand’s economic transformation (Office of the Minister for Economic Development, 2006), so filling the gaps in information about these activities is important for an export-driven economy such as New Zealand’s.

The international engagement data presented in this report goes some way towards fulfilling that deliverable, but covers more than just exporters; it also focuses on overseas operations and overseas purchases by New Zealand businesses. This information helps build a complete picture of international engagement that is needed for understanding the range of business models that can be used to move core business up the value chain, such as the establishment of overseas operations.

Business Operations Survey overview

The BOS has been run annually since 2005. This survey is a suitable vehicle for the collection of international engagement data as it covers a wide cross-section of the New Zealand economy and gathers information on business practices. Very small businesses (those with less than six employees) are not covered, but the businesses included represent the majority of New Zealand’s economic activity. Figure 1.01 shows the distribution of businesses surveyed in 2007 according to the number of businesses and employees represented. Figure 1.02 gives some indication of the proportion of the New Zealand economy this represents.

Figure 1.01

Distribution of businesses surveyed and distribution of employees in businesses surveyed

Figure 1.02
Proportion of economy surveyed and proportion of employees in economy surveyed

Key highlights

These are the key findings from the BOS 2007 that will be discussed in detail in the following chapters: 

  • of the 20 percent of businesses that generated some type of overseas income:
    • almost one-fifth earned more than one type of income overseas 
    • almost two-thirds earned income from more than one overseas country 
    • two-thirds were also involved in other forms of international engagement, such as overseas production or purchases 
    • the manufacturing industry had the highest proportion (38 percent) of businesses that generated some form of overseas income, followed by wholesale trade (35 percent).
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