Global Economic and Trade Update for New Zealand Businesses - 12 February 2021


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Domestic Update

  • The Meat Industry Association reports that the NZ red meat sector exported $9.2 billion worth of products during 2020, an increase of 1% on the previous year, according to analysis by the Meat Industry Association. Overall exports during the year reached historically high levels – and were seven percent above 2018 exports ($8.6b) and 21 percent above 2017 levels ($7.6 billion).

Regional updates

The Pacific Islands

  • French Polynesia closed its borders on 3 February due to concerns about the new COVID variants and the country’s ability to manage any increase in COVID-19 cases. It has also introduced a 14-day self-paid hotel quarantine period for those who meet strict special exemption criteria. This is expected to have a major impact on the economy as hotels and tourism businesses are forced to close causing a loss of jobs and serious social hardship. Until this time, French Polynesia was the only country in the Pacific with open borders and still welcoming tourists.
  • This decision is in response to the COVID situation in French Polynesia, which has 18244 confirmed cases with 16 in hospital. So far, 3284 people have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and 594 have also received their second. French Polynesia has confirmed the presence of a variant of the virus using its new screening kits, and is currently determining the type of variant.
  • Samoa has announced four repatriation flights from Auckland for Q2 of 2021. The second and third approved flights will cater in part for the repatriation of seasonal workers from New Zealand and Australia, and returnees from Asia including India. Samoa’s Cabinet has also approved on an ongoing basis the continuation of weekly Friday cargo flights from Auckland operated by Air NZ. 


  • On 24 December 2020, the UK and EU concluded a deal on the terms of their future trade relationship. This came into force on 1 January 2021 and the UK and EU are now trading under these terms.  Information about how Brexit may affect New Zealand exporters can be found here and here(external link).


  • On Tuesday 2 February, an Air NZ cargo flight took off from Christchurch bound for Guangzhou, China – a first for the airline. Air NZ is operating three return services to Guangzhou this week to support the trade of premium goods over the Chinese New Year peak period. From next week, the airline will operate twice weekly multi-stop services to pick up goods in Auckland and Christchurch to carry to Guangzhou. The flights will continue through to March and carry local premium export goods including seafood and milk powder to China, and return flights to NZ will carry PPE, electronics and general cargo.
  • Advance GDP estimates show Taiwan’s economy grew by 2.98% over 2020. The growth is in large part due to strong export sales over the course of 2020, as demand for electronics and information communication technology products has soared around the world.
  • Amid a slight down trend in new COVID-19 infections, South Korea is taking a cautious approach ahead of Lunar New Year, maintaining its current social distancing level (Level 4 of 5 for the Greater Seoul area, Level 3 out of 5 elsewhere) until after the holiday period (from 11-14 February). It announced that businesses caught violating COVID-19 related restrictions will be subject to an immediate two week suspension.

Middle East & Africa

  • The Africa New Zealand Business Council is hosting its first Insights to AfricaNetworking Event on 18 February 2021. Hon Damien O’Conner, Minister of Trade and Export Growth, and Dr Eldrede Kahiya, Director of Postgraduate Study in International Business at Victoria University will be speaking.
  • The Egyptian Customs Authority has confirmed that export documents will not require notarisation until 2 June 2021.
  • Expo 2020 Dubai will take place from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. The Expo 2020 hosts (United Arab Emirates) are committed to Expo 2020 safely proceeding in the context of Covid-19.  The New Zealand pavilion is 95% complete. New Zealand is committed to participating and we are planning for both face-to-face engagement and virtual participation. Our aim is to ensure New Zealand participants can make the most out of this opportunity to contribute to New Zealand’s economic recovery and use Expo 2020 a platform for exporters to do business in one of our fastest growing trade regions. The New Zealand Trade and Enterprise business programme will be launched later this month. For more details, keep an eye on the Expo website

Market reports released this week

External links

The following links may provide useful information to businesses:

  • NZTE(external link) has a website focused on providing COVID-19 information for exporters. They’ve also launched myNZTE(external link), an interactive digital portal of insights and tools available to all New Zealand exporters.
  • The Treasury releases a weekly economic update(external link) every Friday. Stats NZ has published a data portal(external link) with near real-time economic indicators.
  • MBIE publishes a sector reports series(external link) which provides regularly updated reports on all industry sectors that make up the New Zealand economy. These include official economic data and the challenges and opportunities that face New Zealand’s industry sectors.
  • link) provides tools and advice from across government to save small businesses’ time and help make the business a success.
  • MFAT has created a tariff finder(external link) which is designed to help goods exporters and importers maximise benefits from New Zealand’s Free Trade Agreements and compare tariffs in 136 other markets.

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This information released in this report aligns with the provisions of the Official Information Act 1982. The opinions and analysis expressed in this report are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views or official policy position of the New Zealand Government. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the New Zealand Government take no responsibility for the accuracy of this report.


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