(MENAFN - Arab News) A growing number of New Zealand companies are looking to expand their business in the Kingdom, says Steve Jones, New Zealand Trade Commissioner, Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, based in Dubai.
"Such companies are in the fields of construction, education and training, food, and management consulting," Jones, who is in charge of New Zealand Trade Enterprises (NZTE) operations in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, told Khalil Hanware of Arab News in an exclusive interview.
New Zealands top four export categories to the Kingdom are dairy, eggs, honey; meat; baking related products; wood.
Jones said he and his team are responsible for developing and maintaining an extensive network of business relationships in the region relevant to NZTE clients trade and investment interests.
New Zealand's trade relations with the GCC states are flourishing with rising exports year by year. Which are the products (brands) New Zealand is exporting to GCC countries?
Merchandise trade is predominantly dairy and meat categories. Well-known consumer brands are Anchor (dairy) and Angel Bay (meat products). In the retails category, consumers might be familiar with Burger Fuel (gourmet burgers) and Pumpkin Patch (childrenswear). In the B2B space, New Zealand companies are active in the construction technology sector (Pultron, Framecad), health IT (Orion Health) and marine engineering (Hamilton Jet). Recent high-profile entrants include risk management, compliance and investigations software company Wynyard Group.
What are the prospects for improving further the GCC-New Zealand trade?
Very positive. The bilateral relationship is growing with many delegations from GCC visiting New Zealand. New Zealand is particularly well placed to assist GCC countries address the complex issues surrounding food security.
Are New Zealand companies setting up factories in the GCC region?
Yes, a small number particularly in the food and construction sectors.
What about New Zealand's presence in Saudi Arabia? How is New Zealand-Saudi Arabia trade?
We have noticed a growing number of enquiries from New Zealand companies looking to grow their business in Saudi Arabia in construction, education and training, food, and management consulting. In the 12-month period ended October 2012, New Zealand exports to the Kingdom totaled 536.9 million. This was a slight decrease on the previous 12-month period, which saw exports valued at 548.9. New Zealand's top four export categories to the Kingdom are dairy, eggs, honey; meat; baking related products; wood.
New Zealand is known for dairy products. Does the country have a big market for dairy products in the GCC?
Yes, in the 12-month period ended October 2012, New Zealand exported 904.1 million worth of dairy products to the GCC.
New Zealand has been named as the best country for business in the annual rankings from Forbes. Will New Zealand benefit from topping Forbes list of Best Countries for Business?
It helps to boost the country's international profile. We are approached by foreign governments hoping to learn more about how to create economic policy settings which can stimulate the creation of new start-up companies. This is of great interest to GCC states.
How has New Zealand with its 162 billion GDP economy emerged better than most countries during the global financial crisis?
Between 2000 and 2007, New Zealand's economy expanded by an average of 3.5 percent each year as private consumption and residential investment grew strongly. Annual inflation averaged 2.6 percent, inside the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's 1 percent to 3 percent target range, while the current account deficit averaged 5.5 percent of the GDP. Like most OECD countries, New Zealand's economy experienced an economic slow-down following the global financial crisis in September 2008. As in other advanced economies, business and consumer confidence declined. Unlike most OECD countries however, after a posting a 2 percent decline in 2009, the economy pulled out of recession late in the year, and achieved 1.7 percent growth in 2010 and 2 percent in 2011. Recovery has been led by exports with strong demand from our major trading partners Australia and China, who have been less affected by the crisis. The disruptions of natural disasters at home and abroad and the sovereign debt crisis in Europe have been offset by tourists visiting for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, exceptional pastoral growth and high export prices. A range of measures have stabilized the situation and New Zealand now enjoys sound macroeconomic foundations. We have a relatively strong fiscal position and a commitment to reduce net debt to 20 percent of GDP by the early 2020s. Legislative requirements are in place to maintain public debt at prudent levels. The Kiwi dollar is among the top 20 rated sovereign currencies in the world. In 2012, the New Zealand Treasury forecast economic growth would increase to 2.6 percent and 3.4 percent in 2013 and 2014 respectively then settle at around 3 percent.
The World Bank and International Finance Corporation named New Zealand as the easiest place to start a business out of 185 countries. Please tell us how easy it is to set up a business in New Zealand?
New Zealand ranks first in the world for ease of doing business, according to the World Bank Doing Business report 2013. Starting a business in New Zealand takes just one day, while registering a property takes just two. New District Court rules have been introduced to make the process for enforcing contracts user-friendly. New Zealand also has a business-friendly taxation system that supports capital development, research and development and international investment. New Zealand also has a wide range of visa categories in place catering for investors, entrepreneurs and business managers.
New Zealand is a strong advocate for free trade. Is New Zealand having free trade agreements with other countries?
Yes we currently have several free trade agreements in place with Malaysia, Australia and ASEAN, China. We are also in the process of negotiating free trade agreements with India, Korea and Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan.
Is New Zealand trying to attract foreign investments with new incentives?
New Zealand has an open economy that works on free market principles. We don't offer specific incentives to attract inward investment however we are open for business and we have specific visa categories to encourage investors to move to New Zealand.
New Zealand's business migration categories are designed to contribute to economic growth, attracting 'smart' capital and business expertise to New Zealand, and enabling experienced business people to buy or establish businesses in New Zealand. There are opportunities in many fields, in both traditional business sectors and in new areas. Just some of the areas where New Zealand is doing exceptionally well include information and communications technology, tourism, film and special effects production, biotechnology, agricultural research, and wood-based technology. You can find out more here: http://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/investing-in-nz
New Zealand has a reputation for creating high quality, innovative products. Which products are the most popular in the GCC?
GCC consumers would be familiar with Anchor dairy products and New Zealand beef and lamb products. Recently, Zespri has been extensively marketing kiwifruit through UAE retailers.
Is New Zealand infrastructure sophisticated enough to cope up the rising influx of new businesses?
Yes most major international airlines serve international airports in seven urban centers across New Zealand. More than 30 global and regional shipping lines serve privately-run, deep-water ports at internationally competitive stevedoring costs. We also have an extensive road and rail transport system and effective inter-island links. You can find out more about New Zealand's transport options via the link. New Zealand has a strong banking sector that weathered the global economic crisis well. The parents of the four largest banks are Australian-owned and are all in the Top 20 of the Global Finance World's Safest Banks index. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand supervises New Zealand's banking system, with its main function being to implement government monetary policy according to annual directives. It also registers and supervises other banks. New Zealand has an open door policy on bank registration. There are several major trading banks and numerous other banking institutions. Many of the big international banks are represented in New Zealand through agents or sales offices.
New Zealand's telecommunications infrastructure includes international broadband submarine cable systems and competitive onshore mobile networks. The Southern Cross cable alone delivers 240 Gbit/s of fully-protected bandwidth to the US mainland, Hawaii, Australia and Fiji. As demand increases, capacity can be doubled to 480Gbit/s.