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New Zealand

New Zealand

Population 4.6 million
GDP 43,363 US$
Country risk assessment
Business Climate
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  2013 2014 2015(f) 2016(f)
GDP growth (%) 1.7 3.0 3.4 2.5
Inflation (yearly average) (%) 1.1 1.2 0.4 1.4
Budget balance (% GDP) -1.6 -0.7 -0.7 -0.4
Current account balance (% GDP) -3.2 -3.1 -3.8 -4.1
Public debt (% GDP) 40.7 41.1 41.1 39.5

(e) Estimate   (f) Forecast


  • Proximity to emerging Asian countries and Australia
  • Touristic appeal and large agricultural sector
  • Controlled public debt
  • Solid banking system
  • Dynamic demographics


  • Economy dependant on foreign investment
  • High level of household and corporate debt (particularly in the agricultural sector)
  • Dependence on Chinese demand
  • Poverty concentrated on vulnerable groups (unemployed, single parent families)
  • Low level of private savings
  • Shortage of qualified labour


Low milk prices and the Chinese slowdown are affecting the economy

Growth is expected to be slower in 2016 than in 2015. The country is exposed to several downside risks. The Chinese slowdown could reduce New Zealand's exports to China (its largest trading partner) and Australia (the country’s second largest trading partner and China’s biggest trading partner). The persistently low milk prices, compared with the 2014 peak, are expected to take their toll on the dairy sector (25% of goods exports and 3% of GDP). The full scale of theEl Niñometeorological phenomenon remains uncertain but could significantly affect the agricultural sector. The gradual winding down (by 2017) of the rebuild programme in the Canterbury region (following the 2011 earthquake) is expected to have a negative impact on construction, although investments in the Auckland region are very dynamic. The strength of domestic demand is, however, expected to limit the negative aspect of these risks. Between June and September 2015, the New Zealand Central Bank (RBNZ) cut its key rate by 100 basis points to stand now at 2.50%. This more accommodative policy is expected to sustain household consumption, despite high household debt levels (155% of gross disposable income). Exports will benefit from the past depreciation of the currency. Depreciation pressures might persist considering the tightening of the Fed’s monetary policy.  

It should be noted that the authorities have both budgetary (low debt and deficit) and monetary (relatively high interest rate compared with the Fed and the ECB) room for manoeuvre to boost economic activity if necessary.

Moreover, the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) in October 2015 will be an opportunity in terms of growth, employment and exports (40% of New Zealand’s exports are to TPP countries), particularly for the agriculture sector and dairy products. Another multilateral agreement (the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, RCEP) being negotiated, which would bring together, among others, China, India, Japan and South Korea, could further increase economic opportunities. The signing of these agreements would enable the country to raise the share of exports in GDP to the authorities' desired target of 40% by 2025 compared with 30% in 2015.


Public finances in good health but worsening current account 

Despite the economic slowdown, the return to a budget surplus remains a government priority, because the country is heavily indebted to non-residents and because of its aging population (leading to a rise in health spending). Its budget deficit is therefore set to decrease further and to be balanced in the medium term. At the same time the public debt is expected to fall gradually.

The current account balance, which runs a structural deficit because of the income balance deficit, is expected to worsen slightly in 2016. The import slowdown is not expected to offset that of exports, hit by the economic slowdown of the country’s two main partners (China and Australia).

New Zealand’s banking sector is well capitalised and stress tests have shown the banks to be resilience in the event of a property crisis. However, the sector seems vulnerable because it is very concentrated (dominated by four banks) and exposed to high household debt, particularly among farmers. Meanwhile, because of the low household savings rate (3%) the banks are borrowing on the financial markets and are therefore exposed to the volatility of these markets, which could increase if the Fed raises its interest rates.


A country favourable to the business environment 

John Key, Prime Minister since 2008, will have as his main challenge that of revitalising the economy in view of the upcoming parliamentary elections, which will be held no later than November 2017.

New Zealand is second (out of 189 countries) in the World Bank’s latest Doing Business rankings. Notably, the country ranks first with regard to starting a business, getting credit, protecting minority investors and registering property.


Last update : January 2016



Bills of exchange or promissory notes are not frequently used for commercial transactions inNew Zealand.

Although cheques are still used in everyday transactions, payment by electronic  funds transfer or credit card has been developing rapidly.


Wire transfers or SWIFT bank transfers are the most commonly used payment method for domestic and international transactions. Most of the country’s banks are connected to the SWIFT network, which offers a rapid, cost-efficient means of effecting payments.


TheNew Zealanddollar, along with the main foreign currencies, is now also part of the Continuous Linked Settlement System / CLS, a highly automated interbank transfer system for processing international trade settlements.


Debt Collection


The collection process starts with the serving of a final notice, a “seven-day letter” whereby the creditor notifies the debtor of his payment obligations including any contractual interest due.


Without payment by the debtor company of an uncontested payable claim exceeding 1,000 NZ$ (or after obtaining a ruling), the creditor may summon the debtor to settle his debt or to enter into a compromise within 15 days or face a winding-up petition with his company considered insolvent (Statutory demand under section 289 of the Companies Act 1993).


Under ordinary proceedings, once a statement of claim (summons) has been filed and where debtors have no grounds on which to dispute claims, creditors may solicit a fast-track procedure enabling them to obtain an executory order by issuing the debtor with an ‘application for summary judgement’.


This petition must be accompanied by an affidavit (a written sworn statement by the plaintiff attesting to the claim’s existence) along with supporting documents authenticating the unpaid claim.


For more complex or disputed claims, creditors must instigate standard civil proceedings, an arduous, often lengthy process lasting up to two years.

Proceedings are heard by District Courts or, for claims exceeding 200,000 NZ$, by the High Court.

Appeals from theses courts go to the Court of Appeal, and any further appeal is to the Supreme Court of New Zealand.


The High Court provides for eligible cases to proceed via a fast track procedure, for example in the fields of insurance, banking, and finance, disputes on intellectual property rights, merchandise transport, commercial contracts, and merchandise import/export.


During the preliminary phase, the Court examines the case documents authenticating the parties’ respective claims. During the subsequent “discovery phase”, the parties’ lawyers may request their adversaries to submit any proof or witness testimony that is relevant to the case and duly examine the case documents submitted.


An amendment to the High Court and District Courts Rules, effective as of 1st February 2012, encourages the submission of evidence by electronic means (e-discovery), like e-mails, real time computer communications, accounting databases, unless the litigant obtains an exemption from the judge.


Likewise, during the case management conference, the judge may order standard discovery or tailored discovery.


Before handing down its judgement, the court examines the case at hearing, considers the lawyers’ arguments and holds an adversarial hearing of the witnesses who may be cross-examined by the parties’ lawyers.


Arbitration or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), a mediation procedure, may also be used to resolve disputes and obtain more rapid out-of-court settlements, often at a lower cost than through the ordinary proceedings.

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