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Free trade a priority in New Zealand, in Country Profile


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New Zealand flag

Flag Facts

Blue, with the flag of the U.K. in the upper hoist-side quadrant, New Zealand’s flag has four red stars that represent the Southern Cross constellation.

Location: Southeast of Australia in the Oceania region, New Zealand is comprised of islands in the South Pacific Ocean.

Language: English, with small percentages of Maori, Samoan and others

Total Population: 4.5 million

Capital: Wellington

Government: Parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy

Religion: Christian (44.3%); in the 2013 census 38.5 percent stated “no religion”

Economy:  New Zealand’s economy is highly dependent on international trade and tourism, and the U.S. is the country’s third most important trading partner after China and Australia. While its economic foundation remains in agricultural exports, over the past 40 years New Zealand has developed more of an industrialized, free market economy with deepened technological capabilities. The country continues to make free trade agreements a top foreign policy priority.

News note: Although New Zealand’s building and construction sector are performing strongly as a result of rebuilding and seismic upgrade programs, the country continues to face a housing affordability shortage. The new Labour-led government has committed $1.5 billion to the KiwiBuild program to deliver 100,000 quality homes for first-time homebuyers over the next decade.

GDP (official exchange rate): $200.8 billion

Currency: New Zealand Dollar (conversion rate at press time: 1 NZD equals $0.66 USD).

Franchising in New Zealand: New Zealand has one of the world’s highest per-capita ownership of franchises and the model brings with it the benefits of scale offered by a larger corporation versus the country’s typical small business (approximately 97 percent of New Zealand’s businesses have fewer than 20 employees). The country’s market size is ideal for new-to-export companies and for testing new-to-market products. Reps of U.S. companies should visit New Zealand to meet prospective partners, as this is a common practice of competitors, many of which are just across the Tasman Sea in Australia.

Cultural notes: To bridge the geographical distance between the U.S. and New Zealand, rapport, trust and clear communication are important in business dealings. New Zealanders value strong working relationships with their U.S. partners, and for them due diligence is important, along with having numerous resources available for assistance. Overall business practices are similar to those in the U.S.

Ease of doing business ranking by World Bank: 1.

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