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Research shows US remains critical trade partner - NZUS Council

15 May 2013

In the lead-up to a high-level meeting of political, business and community leaders from New Zealand and the United States, research released today highlights the strong economic and trade bonds between the two countries.

The United States - New Zealand Pacific Partnership Forum will take place on 19-21 May 2013 in Washington, D.C.  Organised by the US NZ Council in association with the NZ US Council, this is the fifth time the Partnership Forum will have convened.

"The Forum occurs during a fascinating stage for New Zealand’s relationship with the United States, particularly with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) entering what we hope will be its closing negotiating phase," said NZUS Council Executive Director, Stephen Jacobi, who is currently in Washington.

The NZIER research which analyses the significant economic and trade relations between New Zealand and the United States was commissioned by the NZ US Council to brief New Zealand delegates at the Forum.

"The research shows that New Zealand and the United States have a broad economic relationship that covers trade in goods, services, including digital and IT services, people-to-people links including tourism and education, and investment," said Mr Jacobi.

US demand for New Zealand goods exports picked up slightly in 2012. The United States remains our third largest single export market, behind Australia and China. The United States took 9.2% of New Zealand exports in 2012, and provided 9.3% of our imports.

Of particular interest is the rise in revenue from TV and film production sectors sales. Figures reached $458 million in 2012 - an increase of 57% since 2009.

There were 178,000 American visitors to New Zealand in 2012, making the United States our fifth largest source of visitors. Importantly, the average daily spend of US visitors was $127, well above the average of $112. Furthermore, almost 2000 US fee-paying students attend educational institutions in New Zealand," said Mr Jacobi.

The United States remains a key investment partner, with an investment stock in New Zealand of $44 billion, or 14.5% of total foreign investment stock.

"Even so, there are signs that over time New Zealand and the United States risk becoming less important economically to each other," said Mr Jacobi.  

"New Zealand’s share of American imports has declined as has the United States share of New Zealand imports.  New Zealand provides 0.15% of American imports down from 0.26% in 1991.  The US share of New Zealand imports has dropped from 17% to 9.3% in the same period. This underscores the importance of TPP and the boost it will give to two way trade and investment."
The NZIER research concludes that the TPP offers a chance for New Zealand and US firms to reinvigorate bilateral linkages and work together in third markets.

More than 250 delegates are expected to attend the Washington Partnership Forum, including 45 "Future Partners" in the 20-30 age group. New Zealand participants in the Future Partners programme, which is being run in association with Fulbright New Zealand, were selected by competitive process from 150 applicants.

This year's Partnership Forum will differ from previous events in size, diversity and that it will be open to the press.  The Forum forms part of a series of events constituting New Zealand Week organized by the New Zealand Embassy in Washington.

Link to NZIER research


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