Digital Trade Review

On this page

In 2023, MFAT, with MartinJenkins, undertook a review of Aotearoa New Zealand’s engagement in digital trade. This Review was undertaken in response to a recommendation of the Trade for All Advisory Board, which requested that a “thorough review of New Zealand’s interests in the digital trade negotiations should be carried out”. The timing of the Review was designed to build upon the broader all-of-government Digital Strategy for Aotearoa(external link) that was finalised in September 2022.

The Review covered New Zealand’s international engagement in digital trade and our international policy settings affecting digital trade and supporting the digital economy, including as reflected in digital provisions negotiated in international trade agreements, and how these support effective engagement by Māori, business and consumers to engage in digital trade. MartinJenkins produced an independent report as an outcome of the process which can be found below.

Why a Review?

Digital trade covers rules affecting trade and commerce enabled by technology and includes both trade in goods and services. An effective digital trade policy can streamline the movement and transaction of goods and services across borders, by reducing administration and enabling paperless customs clearances, for example.

Through recent trade agreements, and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), New Zealand has agreed a variety of provisions regarding e-commerce or digital trade that touch on some of the factors relevant to the digital economy, while preserving policy space for domestic regulation.

Digital trade is also an area that includes strong Māori interests and touches upon a broad range of new and emerging issues. These include security and improved protection for consumers: ensuring that their rights and interests in data and privacy are protected.

This Review considered our existing trade policy settings and looked for gaps and opportunities for improvement, including the protection of what’s important, while continuing to open doors for our exporters into new markets.

What the Review entailed

The Review was focused on engagement with New Zealanders to find out their views on the direction of New Zealand’s digital trade policy and engagement. Open public consultations, as well as targeted discussions with key individuals and groups, were held online and in-person throughout April and June 2023.   This included discussions with industry, Māori, academics, civil society, and government agencies amongst others. More details of who participated are included in an annex of the report.

Outcomes of the Review and next steps

The report summarises what was heard during those discussions, and details the opportunities and concerns that were raised by participants on what New Zealand needs to consider as we develop and implement our digital trade policy and negotiation positions. The report summarises these discussions in six thematic areas:

  • the use of digital tools to facilitate the movement of physical goods across borders;
  • managing the storage, location and flows of data;
  • weightless trade – goods and services delivered electronically;
  • Māori and digital trade;
  • trust in the digital world;
  • preparing for new technology and data.

The independent report recommends a series of “policy principles” that focus on how the Government can working to remove barriers and address challenges that exist in the digital economy, as well as to continue to protect the Government’s right to regulate in this space. These principles will inform the positions and outcomes that New Zealand should seek in digital trade negotiations going forward.

The report also includes recommended actions where we can go further or faster. For example, it includes recommendations to improve digital trade facilitation processes and develop better tools to support the public, including Māori, in understanding digital trade rules and how they apply.

Work to consider and implement the report including the recommendations will be ongoing. Further updates will be provided here.

Continuing to have your say on the future of digital trade policy

The work to improve our impact, effectiveness and reach in digital trade doesn’t end here with the release of the report.  We are keen to continue to hear from New Zealanders on digital trade given the rapidly evolving nature of digital trade.

Please email with comments, questions, input to:


We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our website, to analyze our website traffic, and to understand where our visitors are coming from. You can find out more information on our Privacy Page.