In the year to December 2016 New Zealand exported $48.5 billion in merchandise exports, this was down from $49 billion exports in 2015, and the $50.1 billion exports in 2014. As shown in the figure below New Zealand exports have grown by $19.2 billion since 2000, when $29.3 billion worth of goods was exported.
In 2016, as shown in the figure below, the largest destinations for New Zealand goods was China with $9.4 billion in exports or 20 percent of total exports. Following China was Australia with 17 percent and USA with 11 percent. Together these three destinations take almost half of New Zealand’s merchandise exports. This is a change from 2000 when the largest destination was Australia with 20 percent, followed by USA and Japan, both with 14 percent of total exports.
China has been the top export destinations since 2013, when it overtook Australia. As shown in the figure below, China in 2000 took in just 3 percent of New Zealand’s exports or $930 million of goods. Since 2000, exports to China has grown by 915 percent or $8.5 billion. At the same time New Zealand exports to Australia have only grown by 10 percent or $470 million, - it is this much slower growth in exports to Australia which has seen Australia’s share of exports decline from 20 percent in 2000, to 17 percent in 2016. The difference in growth patterns between China and Australia can be linked to two things, the first is that New Zealand has had a free trade agreement in place with Australia since 1983, while New Zealand’s agreement with China was only signed in 2008. The second is that China has a population of 1.39 billion people and a GDP of US$11,065 billion, while Australia has a population of 24.4 million and a GDP of US$1,339 billion.