Our relationship with South East Asia

South East Asian countries make up one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. It's a region of growing economic importance to New Zealand.

New Zealand's involvement in South East Asia rose sharply after World War II with defence connections and the education-focused Colombo Plan, designed to strengthen the economic and social development of member countries. The relationship now includes areas as diverse as science, technology, tourism, education and agricultural cooperation. 

Formal connections

New Zealand’s formal connections with South East Asian countries include our work with regional organisations such as Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM+), the East Asia Summit (EAS), and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) as well as international organisations such as the United Nations, and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).


ASEAN is a political and economic community of 10 South East Asian nations - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. It is a very important partner to New Zealand. New Zealand’s Mission to ASEAN was formally opened in 2015, appointing an Ambassador to Jakarta, the seat of the ASEAN Secretariat. Indonesia is our current ASEAN Dialogue Partner. Singapore is the Chair of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit in 2018.

In 2009, New Zealand and Australia signed a free trade agreement with ASEAN (AANZFTA), and in 2013 the New Zealand Government launched the New Zealand Inc Strategy for ASEAN. This aims to coordinate efforts across New Zealand government, business and the wider community as we engage with these nations.

Find out more about ASEAN

Find out more about the NZ Inc ASEAN Strategy


Goods trade with South East Asia accounts for 10% of our exports and 14% of our imports - a combined value of $11.43 billion in the year to March 2017.

The services market is also flourishing, particularly in education and tourism. In the year to March 2017, more than 190,000 ASEAN tourists visited New Zealand, making it one of New Zealand's larger tourism markets. Between 2015 and 2016, visitor numbers increased 48% from Malaysia, 19% from Singapore, and 51% from Indonesia. There were more than 12,700 ASEAN students in New Zealand in 2016.  

Trade agreements and negotiations

We have two regional free trade agreements:

We're also negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes the 10 ASEAN countries and six countries including New Zealand that have FTAs with ASEAN: Australia, China, India, Japan and Korea.


Our aid partnerships in Asia reflect New Zealand’s strengths in agriculture, education and disaster resilience. The New Zealand Aid Programme gives country-specific support to Indonesia, Myanmar and Timor-Leste, and supports regional initiatives in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. These include the Mekong Institute, the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking, the Mekong River Commission (external link), and ASEAN-led initiatives such as the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Centre.

Under the New Zealand Aid Programme Strategic Plan 2015-19, New Zealand will invest $200 million in ASEAN over the next three years.

Find out more about our aid work with Asia

Embassies and consular services 


Service area

Indonesia, Jakarta  Indonesia/ASEAN
Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur  Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam
Myanmar, Yangon  Myanmar
Philippines, Manila   Republic of the Philippines
Singapore  Singapore and Republic of Maldives
Thailand, Bangkok  Thailand, Cambodia and Laos
Timor-Leste, Dili Timor-Leste
Viet Nam, Ha Noi
Viet Nam

News & Events

Statement by Friends of the Covax Facility (FOF)

European Union
Republic of Korea (South)
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom

Joint Statement by the COVAX Friends of the Facility, supporting fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines