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Friday, 29 July 2011

Welsh Postscript

This sign was an excellent reminder that wherever one is, a knowledge of the local language, customs, and business practices never goes amiss in international trade.

In fact we didn't have to allow for horse-drawn carts or anifeiliaid.
I just hope that their export trade was not dependent on the carts for their supply chain.
Photo:  Descending the Black Mountains, through Capel-y-ffin, Wales 20 June 2011.  Graeme Siddle

If you are interested in the topic of cultural awareness, check out the 2009 post      Do you have cultural savvy?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

UK - our traditional trade partner

Engineering is not usually one of the things that I hunt out when I am on an overseas holiday, but this time as part of our visit to England and Wales, we went to Bristol.  I knew about Kingdom Isambard Brunel but seeing both the S.S.Great Britain and the Clifton Suspension bridge which he designed were real highlights.

For those who have not visited the S.S.Great Britain, it is in the dry dock where it was originally built and you can walk right around the hull.  It is protected with a glass ceiling which keeps the ship at the correct humidity and which will ensure its survival.  The prow of the ship is above the glass ceiling.  Photo: Graeme Siddle 20 June 2011.

When it was completed in 1845, the S.S. Great Britain was a revolutionary vessel—the first ship to combine an iron hull with screw propulsion, and at 322 ft (98 m) in length and with a 3,400-ton displacement, more than 100 ft (30 m) longer and 1,000 tons larger than any ship previously built. It was fitted to accommodate a total of 360 passengers, along with 1,200 tons of cargo and 1,200 tons of coal for fuel.   Like most steamships of the era, Great Britain was provided with secondary sail power.

And why you might ask is this significant?   Because of its revolutionary nature, it changed sea transport irrevocably and therefore international trade.    The ship carried passengers and cargo from the United Kingdom to Australia over the period 1851-1881.   It certainly carried exports of Australian gold back to England.

Sea transport is still playing an important role in our international trade with to the UK.   Some of the facts about that trade are interesting.  For example over the 2009-2010 period our exports fell 16.1% - compare my post on Germany. However in the year ending December 2010 the UK was still our sixth most important trading partner (exports plus imports), after Australia, China, Japan and Korea.   This is remarkable considering the move New Zealand has made towards markets in Asia in response to the need to move away from dependence on the UK when they entered the Common market (European Community).

The balance of trade is  in New Zealand's favour with a NZ$573 billion difference in 2010.  The emphasis though remains on primary products such as sheep meat, wool, aluminium and apples.   Like Germany there was a decrease in apple exports of 31% in 2009-2010.   Honey is also in the top 10 New Zealand products exported to the UK - in fact the UK is our top destination for honey.  And as with Germany our main import from the UK is motor vehicles.

Detailed study reveals some surprises - an increase of exports of laboratory heating equipment which was in the top 20 of exported products to the UK.   And on the import side we are still heavily dependent  for imports of books, newspapers and periodicals which are in the top five imports!

All of which information is a world away from a 170 year old ship in Bristol, but not from the technology that it represented and which paved the way for international trade developments on a large scale.

Global New Zealand: international trade, investment and travel profile.  Statistics New Zealand, 2010

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Information and NZSOE - Blatant Advertising

We are passionate about information at the New Zealand School of Export.   We believe that information is one of the keys to excellence in international trade education.  In turn we trust that our graduates carry on the information skills learned into their own export ventures.

This is why we update our website regularly.   The changes may not be substantial but they either add to the information we have, or ensure that what we have is current.  Resources we recommend have all been vetted by a professional librarian: see www.export.ac.nz

It is too easy even for professional educators to fall back on Google or Wikipedia without thinking about our real information needs and formulating a clear and simple sentence about what it is we need and what the key words are.  We do not however discount the usefulness of either of these tools and indeed the 2011 version of the International Trade Research Module for the Diploma of International Trade has a whole chapter on Wikipedia for international trade professionals.

Yes this is blatant advertising but that's because we believe in what we do and the power of information for the exporter.

We keep a close watch too on a wide variety of publications including recently the Waitangi Tribunal report WAI 262.   Both government and private institutions publish material which have direct comments on our international trade or on issues which impinge on it.   WAI 262 is a very good example of this.  It has had a long gestation period but right back in 2002 when Dr Rudzki published the Biotechnology report for the Manawatu he recognised the importance of this report for the future.

Both government and private sector reports contain information, comments and statements which affect the whole international trade community and particularly exporters.  For example in the case of WAI 262, it concerns intellectual property.   Section 1.5.5 refers to the TRIPS Agreement and it recommends a dual strategy in 1.6 that:

 1. New Zealand introduce a regime to protect mataurange Maori and taonga works, and
 2. to advocate for broad uptake of minimum standards of protection in the international community, whether in large multilateral or smaller free trade agreements

You can find the full report in pdf format at:


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Germany - falling imports from New Zealand

I had every intention of writing a blog post when I was actually in countries visited, but that didn't happen and so here I am writing very much post trip.   That failure however does give one time for reflection ...

Our time in Germany didn't get off to a very auspicious start with the e-coli scare uppermost in our minds.   Since I am vegetarian I certainly was careful what I ate in the first few days until it seemed that the crisis was over.   The other story which has dominated the news over the whole holiday has been the concern for the fate of the Greek economy and Germany's involvement in both the problem and the solution.   Looking into the NZ School of Export's file on Germany - a clipping from the DominionPost of March 21, 2010 shows that this has been an ongoing story and concern for some little while and bailout two is still being worked through.

In retrospect I now realise that being held back by Berlin Police on the Unter den Linden while suited gentlemen with briefcases got out of large limos, and seeing a cavalcade of helmeted motorcyclists sirens blaring near the Tiergarten were almost certainly both to do with high level discussions to sort out this problem.

Following re-unification there has been a huge thrust to re-build and build anew and we were impressed by the restoration of the Nikolaikirche in Potsdam (outside of Berlin) and the plans for the new Brandenburg Parliament = Landtag.  In the photo below, the red building outside Nikolaikirche is the Information Centre for the Parliament building.   Towards the end of the socialist era, a building was started on this site and   subsequently demolished so that the historical layout of the city could be recreated. (Photo: Graeme Siddle 10 June, 2011)
New Zealand fruit is being sold in Berlin - however our export trade in apples to Germany seems to have taken a hit in the 2009-2010 period with a 41% drop in value of product!   New Zealand's exports to Germany fell in the year to June 2010 by 22.3% and the trade imbalance was in Germany's favour with New Zealand importing NZD $952 million's worth of merchandise from Germany.  Motor vehicles unsurprisingly, are our major import from Germany.

Germany's exports jumped 17% in 2010 and is now out-exporting the US to China by a factor of three to one.  Despite an active German- New Zealand Business Association (www.germantrade.co.nz)  we don't seem to be cashing in on the export-led recovery in Germany.

Postscript:  we were fortunate to be able to visit Baden-Wurttemburg before we left and did a whistle-stop tour of the the very attractive university town of Tubingen.   Our attention was drawn to this shop window:

If you look carefully you will see two kiwis and a slice of kiwifruit.   The link to shoes was not obvious!! (Photo: Graeme Siddle 14 June 2011)

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Hong Kong - New Zealand's 18th largest trade partner

Recently I passed through Hong Kong on a flight to London.   Our flight schedule allowed time to do just one thing - what was it to be?  Shopping? A ferry trip?  In the end we opted for a journey on the Peak tramway.   It certainly outshone Wellington's Cable Car in length, steepness and variety.   And the views - well you can see the views...   The growth of the city is evident from this picture. (Photo: Graeme Siddle, 31 May, 2011)

The growth in demand has been reflected in growth in  some products exported to Hong Kong from New Zealand which have shown remarkable growth in the 2009-2010 period.   Sheep meat exports have increased 74.7% over that time, and honey a remarkable 96.2%.   Overall growth has not been so marked with only a 0.4% growth 2009-2010.

Our trade balance with Hong Kong is well in New Zealand's favour being 691 million NZD for the year ended June 2010.   No doubt great store will be being placed on the New Zealand-Hong Kong, China Closer Economic Partnership (NZ-HK CEP) which  entered into force on 1 January 2011, and it will be interesting to see what story the merchandise trade figures tell for the period ended June 2011. Text of the Agreement and other information on the Hong Kong Agreement can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website at:

Monday, 4 July 2011

New Issue of IN Business

The latest issue of IN-business magazine has just been published.   If you have not come across it before, IN-business is published in partnership with NZTE and publishes a range of stories about New Zealanders in business.
This issue is particularly arresting because one of its focuses is business in Russia especially in the light of NZ's negotiations for an FTA with Russia.   Russia is of course one of the BRICS nations alongwith South Africa, India, Brazil and China.   In one of the articles Stuart Prior, former NZ ambassador to Russia, says that we have a real chance to build important new business in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan through this FTA.   I loved the illustration on p.31 of the Russian bear looking at the quizzical kiwi.

I have been to Russia as a tourist (not in a tour bus) and it was hard - Prior says that Russia is ' most easily consigned to the too-hard basket' - I can imagine why.

Recently the Dominion published an article saying that Russia offered huge potential for textile firms and companies in our textile hubs of Levin, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Auckland had been visited by several Russian textile companies in May.  This is great news especially for our local exporters in the Manawatu-Horowhenua.  (Dominion May 26, 2011, C3)

Russia is obviously a market to watch.