Our relationship with the Middle East

New Zealand seeks to play a constructive role in the Middle East. Our contributions have been mainly through peacekeeping, targeted aid and diplomatic support for conflict resolution in the region. The intent has been to support regional and international interests in peace and stability, and to develop mutually beneficial exchanges of trade in goods and services, investment and people, underpinned by reciprocal high level visits and developments such as New Zealand  Gulf Cooperation Council Strategy.

We also have a number of agreements to work together and an enduring, personal connection with Turkey through Gallipoli. This brutal 1915 campaign is a seminal event in our nation’s history. MFAT and Veterans’ Affairs are involved in the annual ANZAC Gallipoli commemorations, one of the largest and growing gatherings of New Zealanders and Australians offshore.

Conflict in the region

Peace and security threats in the Middle East region are a key priority during New Zealand’s current UN Security Council tenure.

Find out more about New Zealand and the UN Security Council

In 2015, the New Zealand Government approved a non-combat training mission to Iraq to build the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to combat ISIL.

Find out more about New Zealand’s support to Iraq (external link)

Formal connections

New Zealand’s formal connections with Middle Eastern countries include our work with the United Nations (UN) and its subsidiary bodies, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and organisations such as the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

We work with regional organisations, including the:

  • League of Arab States which was founded in 1945 and has 22 member countries
  • Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which was established in 1981 and has six member countries - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman 

Trade

New Zealand has significant economic and trading interests in the Middle East. Our access to energy supplies and petrochemicals at affordable prices is important, and means we take a big interest in the stability of the region. While oil reserves in GCC states are huge, shortages in water and arable land make New Zealand a natural partner as the states look to secure reliable sources of quality food.

In 2014, two-way goods trade with GCC countries came to $4.7 billion. Of this, $1.9 billion was New Zealand goods exports. A number of New Zealand companies have established themselves in the GCC and Egypt, from which they export to the wider region.

The demand for New Zealand education, technology and technical services is also a significant opportunity, and we host students from GCC countries each year - the majority coming from Saudi Arabia.

Trade agreements and negotiations

We've negotiated a free trade agreement with the GCC and once this is legally verified, it can be signed and ratified.

New Zealand-Gulf Cooperation Council FTA

NZ Inc GCC Strategy

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NZ Inc GCC Strategy

The NZ Inc Strategy for the GCC, ‘Opening doors to the Gulf region’, was launched in 2013. It's a five year strategy to grow our relationship with GCC countries and capitalise on economic opportunities in the region. This is based on close collaboration between government agencies and the business community, reinforced with high level political engagement.

Find out more about the NZ Inc GCC strategy 

Aid

New Zealand provides funding for humanitarian assistance in the Middle East through international voluntary agencies such as UNICEF, the World Food Programme, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Red Cross. Since 2012, New Zealand has committed $14.5 million in humanitarian aid to help people displaced by the fighting in Iraq and Syria.

Jordanians are eligible for scholarships through our New Zealand Aid Programme

Embassy and consular services

Until December 2014, New Zealand had a small post in Kabul, Afghanistan, This has now closed and the relationship with Afghanistan is managed from Iran.

Location Service areas
Auckland, New Zealand Palestinian Authority
Egypt, Cairo Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya Morocco
Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran Iran, Afghanistan
Saudi Arabia, Riyadh Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman
Turkey, Ankara Jordan, Israel, Georgia, and Azerbaijan 
United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates and Qatar