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External trade – 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.

See the key points for:

Global NZ: Year ended December 2015

Note: All comparisons are between the year ended December 2015 and the year ended December 2014, unless otherwise stated.

The annual goods and services trade balance for the year ended December 2015 was a $2.7 billion surplus (3.9 percent of exports).

New Zealand’s two-way trade of goods and services (exports plus imports) for the year ended December 2015 was valued at $136 billion, up $3.9 billion from 2014.

Exports of goods and services for the year ended December 2015 were valued at $69.3 billion. Goods exports were worth $49.0 billion, down $1.1 billion from 2014. Much of the decrease in goods exports was due to a fall in the value of dairy products.

New Zealand provided $20.3 billion of services to overseas customers in the year ended December 2015, up $3.0 billion from December 2014. An increase in spending on travel by overseas visitors in New Zealand was the main contributor.

Imports of goods and services for the year ended December 2015 were $66.6 billion. Goods imports were valued at $49.9 billion, up $1.1 billion from 2014, led by an increase in vehicle imports. New Zealand purchased $16.7 billion of services during the year ended December 2015, up $850 million from 2014.

Australia was our main goods and services export destination for the year ended December 2015, with a combined goods and services export total of $12.9 billion. At $11.3 billion, China was our second-largest export partner.

The European Union (EU) was our main source of goods and services imports in the year ended December 2015 ($12.1 billion). At $11.3 billion, Australia was our second-largest source of imports.

At 31 December 2015, New Zealand’s direct investment abroad was valued at $25.2 billion, up $941 million from December 2014.

Foreign direct investment in New Zealand was $96.5 billion at 31 December, down $1.4 billion from December 2014.

Overseas visitors to New Zealand exceeded 3.1 million for the year ended December 2015, up 9.6 percent from 2014. China had the largest increase in short-term visitors for the December 2015 year, up 34.4 percent to 355,904 visitors.

Graph, New Zealand's trade in goods and services, year ended December 2010–15, actual values.

Trade balance 

Annual trade surplus is $2.7 billion

The annual goods and services trade balance for the year ended December 2015 was a $2.7 billion surplus (3.9 percent of exports).

Goods and services trade summary

The goods trade balance (exports fob – imports vfd) for the year ended December 2015 was a deficit of $0.9 billion (1.9 percent of goods exports).

New Zealand exported $49.0 billion of goods overseas for the December 2015 year, down $1.1 billion (2.2 percent) from 2014. Much of the decrease was due to a fall in the value of dairy products – milk powder, butter, and cheese fell $3.8 billion (24 percent) to reach $12.0 billion. Exports of frozen beef for the December 2015 year were $2.9 billion (up $734 million, 13 percent).

New Zealand imported $49.9 billion of goods, up $1.1 billion (2.4 percent) from 2014. The increase was led by vehicles, valued at $6.5 billion (up $540 million). Other significant goods imports included mechanical machinery, valued at $6.3 billion (up $267 million), and crude oil and petroleum and products, valued at $6.1 billion (down $1.7 billion).

The services balance for the year ended December 2015 was a $3.6 billion surplus (17.6 percent of services exports).

New Zealand provided $20.3 billion of services to overseas customers in the year ended December 2015, up $3.0 billion from the December 2014 year. The increase was mainly driven by more spending by overseas visitors to New Zealand. Travel and transportation services, valued at $15.5 billion for the year ended December 2015, made up 76 percent of total services exports. The largest fall was in personal, cultural, and recreational services, down $109 million to $476 million.

New Zealand purchased $16.7 billion of services during the year ended December 2015, up $850 million (5.3 percent) from 2014. Increased spending by New Zealand travellers overseas was the main contributor to the rise. Travel and transportation services, valued at $9.4 billion for the year ended December 2015, made up 56.2 percent of total service imports. Imports of travel services measure New Zealand travellers’ overseas spending.

Graph, Top export partners for goods and services, year ended December, 2010–15.

Top export markets for the year ended December 2015

Australia – was our main goods and services export destination for the year ended December 2015, with a combined goods and services export total of $12.9 billion. Goods made up $8.3 billion of our total exports to Australia, down $433 million from the December 2014 year. Crude petroleum oil was the highest value export, at $632 million (down $544 million). A variety of commodities had increases, such as food preparations (up $98 million) and plywood (up $43 million). The top 20 commodities made up 45 percent of the total value of our exports to Australia. Since a wide variety of commodities account for the exports to Australia, the total value was less affected by the large fall in the value of dairy. Services made up $4.5 billion of New Zealand’s total exports to Australia, up $425 million from the year ended December 2014.

China – the total value of goods and services exports was $11.3 billion for the year ended December 2015. Goods exports to China accounted for $8.6 billion, down $1.4 billion (14 percent) from the December 2014 year. Milk powder was the top export commodity, valued at $1.7 billion, down $2.0 billion. Logs exports, valued at $1.4 billion were down $207 million. Exports such as frozen beef (up $290 million) and fresh fruit (up $133 million) partly offset the fall in milk powder. In contrast to Australia, 86 percent of the total value of our exports to China came from the top 20 commodities. The fall in dairy export values made China our second top export partner. Services made up $2.7 billion of all exports to China, up $812 million from the December 2014 year.

European Union (EU) – goods and services exports were valued at $8.6 billion for the year ended December 2015. Goods exports to the EU made up $5.3 billion of total exports, up $235 million (4.7 percent) from the December 2014 year. The top export commodity was sheep meat, valued at $1.4 billion (up $150 million). Goods exports to Italy and the Netherlands fell, and rose for Denmark, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Services made up $3.4 billion of the total exports, up $590 million from the year ended December 2014. Services provided to the United Kingdom rose significantly, up $361 million to $1.6 billion.

United States – goods and services exports were $8.4 billion for the year ended December 2015. Goods exports made up $5.8 billion of total exports to the United States, up $1.1 billion (22 percent). Frozen beef was the top export commodity, valued at $1.6 billion (up $384 million). Other commodities that increased were casein (up $135 million), wine (up $89 million), and sheep meat (up $56 million). Services made up $2.6 billion of all exports to the United States, down $179 million from the year ended December 2014.

Japan – goods and services exports were $3.7 billion for the year ended December 2015. Goods exports to Japan made up $3.0 billion of the total, up $15 million (0.5 percent). Unwrought aluminium was the top export commodity, valued at $511 million. Fresh fruit exports valued at $296 million for the December 2015 year, were up $56 million from 2014. Services made up $784 million of the total exports to Japan, down $36 million from the December 2014 year.

Korea – the total value of goods and services exports was $2.0 billion for the year ended December 2015. Goods exports to Korea made up $1.6 billion, down $198 million (11 percent). Logs were the top export commodity, valued at $320 million (down $6 million). A variety of commodities had increases, such as cheese (up $9 million) and fruit (up 7 million), while unwrought aluminum fell $48 million. Services made up $460 million of the total exports to Korea, down $2 million from the year ended December 2014.

Goods and services exports to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries accounted for $48.8 billion of our exports for the year ended December 2015, up $728 million from the December 2014 year. Goods exports were $35.5 billion (down $1,070 million) while exports of services were $13.3 billion for the December 2015 year, up $1,798 million from 2014.

Graph, Top import partners for goods and services, as a proportion of total imports, year ended December, 2014 and 2015.

Top import markets for the year ended December 2015

European Union (EU) – was our main source of goods and services imports for the year ended December 2015, with a combined goods and services imports total of $12.1 billion (up $973 million). Goods imports accounted for $8.8 billion of New Zealand’s total imports from the EU, up $346 million from the December 2014 year. Motor vehicles were the highest value import commodity from the EU, at $1.2 billion (up $31 million). Services were $3.2 billion of total imports, up $627 million from the December 2014 year.

Australia – goods and services imports were valued at $11.3 billion for the year ended December 2015 (up $138 million). Goods imports from Australia made up $6.0 billion of our total imports, down $10 million. Aluminum oxide was the top import commodity, valued at $277 million (up $60 million). Food preparation imports, at $206 million, rose $56 million, while crude petroleum oils, valued at $64 million, fell $108 million. Services made up $5.3 billion of New Zealand’s total imports from Australia, up $148 million from the December 2014 year.

China – goods and services imports were $10.4 billion for the year ended December 2015. Goods imports from China made up $9.9 billion of total imports, up $1,582 million. The top import commodity from China was telephones and cellphones, valued at $893 million (up $205 million). Services made up $559 million of New Zealand’s total imports from China, up $67 million from the December 2014 year.

United States – goods and services imports were $8.0 billion for the year ended December 2015. Goods imports from the US made up $5.9 billion of our total imports, up $215 million. Aircraft were the top import commodity from the US, valued at $1.0 billion (down $225 million). Services made $2.2 billion of New Zealand’s total imports from the United States, up $90 million from the year ended December 2014.

Japan – goods and services imports were valued at $3.4 billion for the year ended December 2015. Goods imports made up $3.1 billion of total imports from Japan, unchanged from the December 2014 year. Motor vehicles were the top import commodity from Japan, valued at $1.6 billion (up $50 million). Services made up $228 million of our total imports from Japan, up $54 million from the year ended December 2014.

Goods and services imports from Asia Pacific Economic Countries (APEC) accounted for $50 billion of our total imports.

Foreign direct investment

Stock of direct investment in New Zealand down $1.4 billion

Foreign direct investment measures the value of foreign-owned companies operating in New Zealand. Foreign direct investment in New Zealand was $96.5 billion at 31 December 2015, down $1.4 billion from 31 December 2014. The value of foreign direct investment from the United Kingdom, Australia, and Hong Kong fell. This value is based on the country of the immediate investor, rather than the country where the ultimate investor resides.

Direct investment abroad measures the value of New Zealand-owned companies operating overseas. New Zealand’s stock of direct investment abroad was $25.2 billion at 31 December 2015, up $941 million from December 2014. New Zealand investment into Hong Kong rose $1.3 billion during the December 2015 year.

Foreign direct investment made up 26.4 percent of total investment in New Zealand at 31 December 2015, while overseas direct investment made up 11.8 percent of New Zealand’s total investment abroad.

See Balance of Payments and International Investment Position: December 2015 quarter for more information.

Migration

Net migration almost 65,000

New Zealand recorded a net gain of 64,930 migrants in the year ended December 2015. Permanent and long-term arrivals were up 11.5 percent in the December 2015 year, to 121,937.

Overseas visitors to New Zealand exceeded 3.1 million (3,131,927) for the year ended December 2015, up 9.6 percent from 2014. The largest number of short-term visitors were from Australia – up 6.3 percent to reach 1.3 million visitors.

China had the largest increase in short-term visitors for the December 2015 year – up 91,040 (34.4 percent) to 355,904 visitors.

Overseas trips by New Zealanders rose to 2.4 million for the December 2015 year, up 6.0 percent from 2014. New Zealanders made more trips to Australia, up 4.2 percent, to reach 1.1 million. Trips to the United States by New Zealanders rose 7.4 percent, to 176,980.

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