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Global New Zealand – International trade, investment, and travel profile: Year ended December 2012
Embargoed until 12:00am  –  10 May 2013
Key points

Global New Zealand – International trade, investment, and travel profile is a twice-yearly report co-published by Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It uses annual data for overseas merchandise trade, international trade in services, foreign direct investment, and international travel and migration figures.

All comparisons are between the year ended December 2012 and the year ended December 2011, unless otherwise stated.

New Zealand’s two-way trade (goods plus services) for the year ended December 2012 was valued at $119 billion, down $2.0 billion from the previous year.

The value of New Zealand’s goods and services exports for the year ended December 2012 was $59.8 billion, down 3.5 percent. Goods exports fell 3.4 percent ($1.6 billion), led by decreases in exports of milk powder, butter, and cheese, crude oil, and meat. Services exports fell 3.7 percent ($521 million), led by a decrease in business and other personal travel services.

The value of New Zealand’s goods and services imports for the year ended December 2012 was $59.7 billion, similar to the previous year’s value of $59.5 billion. Goods imports rose 0.7 percent ($319 million), while services imports fell 1.0 percent ($154 million).

The annual goods and services trade balance for the year ended December 2012 was a surplus of $105 million. This was led by a goods trade surplus of $1.2 billion, which was offset by a services trade deficit of $1.1 billion.

As at 31 December 2012, New Zealand’s foreign direct investment abroad was valued at $23.2 billion, down $1.2 billion from the previous year and foreign direct investment in New Zealand was valued at $99.3 billion, up $3.8 billion from the previous year.

Total international arrivals fell 1.3 percent, to 2.6 million individuals. Total international departures rose by 3.5 percent, to 2.3 million for the year ended December 2012.

Graph, New Zealand's trade in goods and services, year ended December, 2007–12, actual values.

Goods trade

Goods exports fall $1.6 billion

In the year ended December 2012, New Zealand’s goods exports were valued at $46.1 billion, down $1.6 billion (3.4 percent) from December 2011. Most export commodities were down compared with the previous year.

The top five export commodities – dairy, meat, wood, mineral fuels, and mechanical machinery – accounted for 52 percent of total exports. The top five export countries accounted for 56 percent of total exports.

Our top five export markets for the year ended December 2012 were:

  • Australia – 22 percent ($9.9 billion) of total exports, down $940 million.
  • China – 15 percent ($6.9 billion) of total exports, up $972 million.
  • the United States – 9.2 percent ($4.2 billion) of total exports, up $234 million.
  • Japan – 7.0 percent ($3.2 billion) of total exports, down $230 million.
  • Korea – 3.4 percent ($1.6 billion) of total exports, down $120 million.

Exports to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries accounted for 72 percent of New Zealand’s total exports ($33.3 billion). Exports to the European Union accounted for 9.9 percent ($4.6 billion) of total exports.

Graph, Goods exports (fob) by country of destination, as a proportion of total exports, 2011 and 2012.

Exports of agricultural products decrease

Exports of agricultural products decreased $529 million (2.0 percent) to $26.5 billion. The decrease was led by the top two export commodities – dairy products and meat and meat products.

Dairy product exports fell $316 million (2.4 percent), to reach $12.6 billion, due to decreases in exports of butter and concentrated milk and cream. Mexico (with the largest decrease being in milk powder and butter), Australia (cheese), and Thailand (milk powder, buttermilk, and butter and dairy spreads) recorded the largest decreases in dairy products.

Meat and meat product exports fell $300 million (5.1 percent), led by decreases in exports of sheep meat. Belgium and the United Kingdom recorded the largest decreases, due to falls in meat and meat products.

Exports to China, however, showed a significant increase in both dairy and meat. Dairy exports to China rose $417 million (18 percent), due to increased exports of milk powder. Meat exports to China rose $241 million (66 percent), led by sheep meat.

Sixty-seven percent of agricultural products were exported to APEC countries. Exports to APEC countries rose $557 million (3.3 percent). The largest contributions came from exports to China, the United States, and Hong Kong.

Thirteen percent of agricultural products were exported to the European Union (EU). The value of exports to the EU fell $706 million (17 percent). The largest contributions came from exports to the United Kingdom, Italy, and Belgium.

Exports of non-agricultural products decrease

Exports of non-agricultural products decreased $1.1 billion (5.4 percent), to $19.5 billion, for the year ended December 2012. The largest contributor to the decrease was mineral fuels, down $455 million (16 percent). Petroleum, down $333 million (14 percent), led this fall. Metal and metal articles also fell, by $377 million (15 percent).

Exports of non-agricultural products to Australia recorded the largest decrease in value, down $887 million (11 percent) to $7.3 billion. The largest contributor was crude oil, down $456 million (21 percent) to $1.7 billion. Exports of non-agricultural products to Japan had the second-largest decrease in value, down $213 million (12.1 percent) to $1.6 billion.

Exports by level of processing

In the year ended December 2012, 70 percent of all exports were primary products and 25 percent were manufactured goods. Of the primary products, 54 percent were processed. Food accounted for 48 percent of total primary exports. Of the manufactured goods, 63 percent were elaborately transformed. Mechanical and electrical machinery and equipment accounted for 41 percent of total manufactured goods exports. Those percentages showed little change from the year ended December 2011.

Thirty-six percent of exported manufactured goods and 16 percent of exported primary products went to Australia. China received 19 percent of New Zealand’s primary exports. Primary products were the main contributor to total exports to China. Fourteen percent of exported manufactured goods went to the United States.

See the Statistics NZ website for more information about how level of processing (LOP) is classified.

Goods imports rise $323 million

New Zealand’s goods imports in the year ended December 2012 were valued at $47.2 billion, up $323 million (0.7 percent). The largest increases were in imports from Oman and Brunei, while imports from Russia fell. Among our top three trade partners, imports from China rose, while imports from Australia and the United States fell.

Imports from APEC countries were valued at $34.1 billion and accounted for 72 percent of total imports. Imports from the European Union were valued at $7.3 billion and contributed 15 percent of total imports.

Graph, Goods imports (cif) by country of origin, as a proportion of total imports, 2011 and 2012.

Imports led by fuels and machinery

Mineral fuels and oils were New Zealand’s highest-value imports, worth $8.4 billion. They increased $272 million, and accounted for 18 percent of total imports. Other significant imports included machinery ($6.1 billion), vehicles ($5.2 billion), and electrical machinery ($3.9 billion). A description of the Harmonised System (HS) chapter heading ‘mineral fuels and oils’ is available on the Statistics NZ website.

China was New Zealand’s largest source of goods imports in the year ended December 2012, with imports valued at $7.7 billion (16 percent) of total imports. This was up $275 million compared with the previous year. The highest-value import commodity from China was computers, valued at $791 million (up 6.5 percent), followed by telephones and cellphones valued at $549 million (down 1.5 percent).

Australia was the second-largest source of imports, accounting for 15 percent ($7.2 billion) of total imports. This was down $184 million compared with the previous year. The highest-value import from Australia was motor vehicles, valued at $323 million, up 25 percent.

The United States was New Zealand’s third-largest source of imports, valued at $4.4 billion, down 13 percent. Aircraft and aircraft parts, turbo-jets, and turbo-propellers were the largest import commodity groups by value.

Imports by level of processing

In the year ended December 2012, 30 percent of all imports were primary products and 69 percent were manufactured goods. Of the primary products, 52 percent were unprocessed. Of the manufactured goods, 88 percent were elaborately transformed. Mechanical and electrical machinery and equipment accounted for 58 percent of imports for all manufactured goods.

Twenty-three percent of imported manufactured goods came from China, 14 percent from Australia, and 11 percent from the United States.

See the Statistics NZ website for more information about how level of processing (LOP) is classified.

Re-export definition

Re-exports are goods brought into New Zealand and exported without a ‘substantial transformation’ (defined as products that have had 50 percent or more value added). Goods that have been substantially transformed are classified as domestic exports. Trans-shipment goods are not included. Goods that are re-exported will have been previously included in import statistics in some form.

Classifications

The commodity tables show the principal markets for New Zealand’s exports (and some imports) of several product groups, including agricultural, non-agricultural, dairy, meat, fruit and vegetables, forestry, and machinery. Economic groupings, and the geographic country groupings that make up the geographic regions used in the text, are defined in the appendixes. Other definitions (eg the services definitions) are those Statistics NZ uses, and are based on standard International Monetary Fund criteria. See appendix 6.

Services trade

Exports of services fall $521 million

New Zealand exported services valued at $13.7 billion in the year ended December 2012, down $521 million from the previous year. Exports of most services were down compared with the previous year, mainly led by a decrease in expenditure by overseas visitors in New Zealand.

The general fall in exports of services was partly offset by increased exports of personal, cultural, and recreational services, which includes revenue earned from film production. The Hobbit was produced in New Zealand during the December 2012 year.

Travel and transportation services accounted for two-thirds of total service exports, and were valued at $9.2 billion for the year ended December 2012.

Our top five export partners for services had the following changes in the year ended December 2012, compared with the previous year:

  • Australia accounted for 28 percent ($3.8 billion) of service exports, down $95 million.
  • The United States accounted for 13 percent ($1.7 billion) of service exports, down $38 million.
  • China accounted for 8.7 percent ($1.2 billion) of service exports, up $218 million.
  • The United Kingdom accounted for 6.8 percent ($939 million) of service exports, down $157 million.
  • Japan accounted for 5.5 percent ($755 million) of service exports, down $1.0 million.

Graph, Service exports by country of destination, as a proportion of total exports, 2011 and 2012.

Service imports fall $154 million

New Zealand imported $14.8 billion of services during the year ended December 2012, down $154 million (1.0 percent) from the previous year. Most import services were down compared with the previous year.

Travel and transportation services accounted for 57 percent of total service imports, valued at $8.4 billion for the year ended December 2012.

Our top five service import partners had the following changes in the year ended December 2012, compared with the previous year:

  • Australia accounted for 33 percent ($4.9 billion) of service imports, down $222 million.
  • The United States accounted for 10.2 percent ($1.5 billion) of service exports, up $15 million.
  • Singapore accounted for 6.0 percent ($888 million) of service exports, down $28 million.
  • The United Kingdom accounted for 5.5 percent ($812 million) of service exports, down $18 million.
  • Germany accounted for 4.1 percent ($610 million) of service exports, up $244 million.

Graph, Service imports by country of origin, as a proportion of total imports, 2011 and 2012.

Trade balance

Annual trade surplus of $105 million

The goods and services annual trade balance for the year ended December 2012 was a surplus of $105 million (0.2 percent of exports).

The annual goods trade balance (exports fob – imports vfd) for the year ended December 2012 was a surplus of $1.2 billion (2.6 percent of exports). This compares with a surplus of $3.2 billion (6.7 percent of exports) for the year ended December 2011.

The annual service balance for the year ended December 2012 was a deficit of $1.1 billion (8.1 percent of service exports). This compares with a deficit of $1.0 billion (7.8 percent of service exports) for the year ended December 2011.

Foreign direct investment

Stock of investment in New Zealand increases $3.8 billion

New Zealand’s stock of foreign direct investment abroad was valued at $23.2 billion as at 31 December 2012, down $1.2 billion from the same time a year ago. This fall is mostly due to a lower value (down $1.7 billion) of direct investment held in Australia.

Foreign direct investment in New Zealand was valued at $99.3 billion at 31 December 2012, up $3.8 billion from the same time last year. The value of direct investment by the United Kingdom almost doubled over this time, to $4.7 billion.

There was a change to the stocks tables (see table 5.3) in this release. The new tables use values for the year ended December, whereas in the previous releases, year ended March values were used.

Migration

Overseas arrivals decrease led by short-term visitors

Total overseas visitor arrivals to New Zealand numbered 2.6 million for the year ended December 2012. This was a decrease of 35,758 (1.3 percent) from the year ended December 2011. The decrease was mainly due to fewer short-term visitor arrivals from the United Kingdom, down 40,668 individuals (17.7 percent), France, down 11,663 individuals (32 percent), and South Africa, down 10,574 individuals (40 percent). The largest increase was in short-term arrivals from China.

Total overseas visitor departures from New Zealand numbered 2.3 million for the year ended December 2012. This was an increase of 76,872 (3.5 percent) from the year ended December 2011. The increase was mainly due to a rise in short-term visitor departures to the United States, Australia, and the Cook Islands.

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