New Zealand and Japan
NZIBF has identified enhancing New Zealand's business and economic relationship with Japan as its top priority.
Japan is the immediate focus because as New Zealand's third largest trading partner this relationship needs to be nurtured and developed. Japan's large economy and its importance both as a market and investment partner also highlight the need to reinvigorate ties with New Zealand.
About the relationship with Japan
Japan is a major bilateral and regional partner of New Zealand and one of New Zealand's anchor trading relationships. Japan is New Zealand's third largest trading partner (after Australia and the United States), with exports totalling NZ$3.3 billion to the end of June 2006. As a supplier of high quality coal, aluminium and agricultural products, New Zealand business engagement is strategically important for Japan. For Japan, New Zealand is a reliable, secure and sustainable supplier of safe food and important natural resources. For New Zealand, Japan is a major market for dairy products, fruit and vegetables, beef, wood products and fish. There are opportunities in Japan also to expand sales of non-traditional products from New Zealand's expanding information technology, biotech and creative industries.
According to published Japanese figures, the cumulative value of Japanese investment in New Zealand in 2005 was roughly NZ$5.2 billion. Japanese companies provide employment for over 9,000 New Zealanders. Indirect employment arising from this investment is significantly higher.
Japanese investment in New Zealand reflects the structure of trading between the two countries: much of it is to secure supply (e.g. forestry, fisheries, food and beverages and aluminium). Investment also covers companies distributing goods such as automobiles and consumer electronics and the provision of services such as tourism. In recent years, Japanese investment has grown in other areas such as education, information technology and bio-tech and energy areas.
Japan is also a significant source of tourist revenue for New Zealand with 136,401 arrivals in 2006, a reduction of 2.2% over the previous year.
At the political level strong political ties are underpinned by a commonality of views and shared interests in the stability, growth and development of the Asia/Pacific community. New Zealand contributes to broader Japanese interests through its participation in regional security dialogues and as part of the group of nations which are committed to promoting democracy, human rights, peacebuilding and sustainable development. In many ways New Zealand is a natural partner for Japan as it pursues what former Foreign Minister Aso has called "value oriented diplomacy".
New Zealand and Japan have different views over the sensitive issues of the conservation of whales, some aspects of fisheries management, and the transport of nuclear materials as well as agricultural trade. Unfortunately New Zealanders' perceptions of the value of the relationship can sometimes be overshadowed by these areas of disagreement.
In June 2005 Prime Minister Clark and Prime Minister Koizumi agreed to take a "fresh look" at the New Zealand-Japan economic relationship and to strengthen high-level exchanges. In November 2006 an officials' level working group was established to "examine ways to strengthen the bilateral economic relationship". The group is to report to the 22nd meeting of the Joint Economic Consultative Committee meeting in Japan in November 2007.
About the Japan project
NZIBF has identified strengthening the relationship with Japan to as its first priority in its strategy for enhancing New Zealand's international business engagement. This is because of the potential of the Japanese economy, importance of Japan already as an established trade, investment and tourism partner for New Zealand, new opportunities that exist and the risks posed by Australia's FTA negotiation. Japanese interest in developing long-term business relationships provides also a basis on which to re-invigorate and expand the political and commercial ties between the two countries.
NZIBF's Japan project is focused on two levels:
- developing the high level constituency for New Zealand in Japan
- improving perceptions in New Zealand of the value of the NZ-Japan relationship.
The project draws very closely on learnings from the strategy successfully implemented by the NZ US Council in respect of New Zealand's relationship with the United States, in particular the organisation of an annual US NZ Partnership Forum which brings together government and business leaders, and associated public advocacy of the relationship. While such initiatives have been pursued by other countries in Japan (including Australia, the United Kingdom, the EU and Canada), the differing cultural context means that the NZ US model will need to be adapted to local conditions and applied carefully with the support of Japanese partners if it is to be successful.
Japan NZ Partnership Forum events were held in Japan in May 2008, October 2009 and July 2011.
 Trade statistics are available at http://www.stats.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/25529F7E-8623-4778-9D49-CC00555AF27F/0/NewZealandExternalTradeStatisticsJune2006web.PDF: see table 5.09, page 107
Note also the
Japan New Zealand Business Council -
The Council's aim is to foster and develop long term economic and trade relations with Japan and to provide a forum for a high level interchange of views between business leaders of Japan and New Zealand on a regular basis.