New Zealand: Country and Foreign Investment
Economy and Currency
In the 1890s, refrigerated shipping allowed New Zealand to base its economy on the export of meat and dairy products to the United Kingdom. However, Britain's membership of the then-European Economic Community in 1973 drastically reduced access for New Zealand’s exporters to their previous largest market.
This and the oil shocks of the 1970s led to significant economic and social changes during the 1980s. Although still dependent on free trade agreements for its agricultural exports, New Zealand has diversified its farm economy and expanded its manufacturing base, achieved partly by large-scale government intervention.
Agriculture now represents only 4.9% of gross domestic product (GDP), with the economy being dominated by services at 71.6% of GDP, and manufacturing at some 23.5%. Tourism has become an important part of the country’s economy, with most of the country’s visitors originating from Australia, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
GDP has reached USD123.7bn (2011 estimate), and per capita GDP averages USD28,000. GDP growth was 1.3% in 2011, in 2010 it was an estimated 1.8% while in 2009 GDP contracted by an estimated 2.4%.
The economy pulled out of recession late in 2009, but growth has been slow. Key trade sectors remain vulnerable to weak foreign demand. Its trade is now mainly with Australia, the European Union (particularly Germany), the United States, China and Singapore.
The government is making efforts to develop New Zealand’s oil and natural gas reserves, so as to boost both the country’s exports and its tax revenues.
Its currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZD), known informally as the “kiwi dollar”.