Looking beyond the obvious - the best bets for NZ food exports to Asia

By Con Williams, Cameron Bagrie

Export opportunities exist well beyond the most obvious places. Photo / File
Export opportunities exist well beyond the most obvious places. Photo / File

Export opportunities exist well beyond the most obvious places for those with the vision and courage to take the calculated risks required in developing new markets.

The opportunities across Asia are well documented. Asia makes up a quarter of global GDP and ANZ expects this to double to over half by 2050. That's a big playground.
Opportunity is, however, only part of the story.

If we want to unlock that opportunity for New Zealand agriculture, we need to start looking beyond broad metrics about rising incomes and GDP to really understand which countries offer the best bet to maximise returns for our exports.

A recent ANZ report - New Horizons, Alternative Asian Markets - does just that.

The report provides a framework to assess the best opportunities by looking at a variety of opportunity and constraint indicators for New Zealand's primary sector across 29 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

It's our attempt to move the conversation away from wild extrapolations of GDP and population growth across the region to something more meaningful that can help with business decisions when it comes to developing new export markets.

After all, New Zealand currently produces enough food for up to 60 million people - well more than our 4.5 million people need - but still small fry considering that would feed only around 1-1.5 per cent of the total population of Asia.

Careful targeting and the successful execution of a wisely chosen strategy are crucial to maximise returns.

The report analyses New Zealand's alignment with markets by studying key measures of opportunities and barriers* (43 indicators in total), and concludes the most attractive markets for New Zealand are Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and China.

Con Williams.
Con Williams.

Together, these countries already account for around 80 per cent of New Zealand's bilateral trade and over 80 per cent of total exports within Asia, demonstrating exporters are already doing a good job.

China will no doubt continue to be a focal point with increasing business links and two-way investment.

However, we think Japan is an understated opportunity.

Currently a highly protected and mature market, Japan could attract a substantial rise in exports as market access improves following (we hope) the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement coming into force.

Our top picks for potential 'up-and-comer' markets, where the next wave of growth might come from, include Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, as well as lesser known markets such as Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Armenia.

Cameron Bagrie.
Cameron Bagrie.

These "next tier" countries could easily shift up our ranking and this is where real opportunity exists. While urbanisation and income levels evolve slowly, other factors such as trade barriers and supply and cool-chain development can change rapidly.

If we consider how quickly key existing barriers have been dismantled in other countries, then the key markets to watch over the next five to 10 years are Japan, Thailand and Indonesia.

To produce the country rankings ANZ identified the following six categories to assess how different Asian markets rank in terms of connectivity with New Zealand exports.

Demand/opportunity categories:

• Food market size and development.

• Consumer purchasing power and affluence.

• Alignment with New Zealand-orientated trade.

Barriers to trade:

• Market access.

• Ease of doing business.

• Supply and cool chain development/infrastructure.

The report, New Horizons: Alternative Asian Markets, is available here.

New Zealand International Business Awards

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the NZIBA, which are run by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise with strategic partner ANZ.

The awards celebrate the success of New Zealand businesses on the world stage, and recognise excellence and innovation in exports.

Many of New Zealand's most iconic companies have been celebrated in the awards hall of fame over the past 50 years, including Tonka, Tip Top and the Apple and Pear Marketing Board (ENZA).

To celebrate 50 years of business icons, a special exhibition has been created that will be on display at the awards ceremony in November.

The awards other sponsors are KPMG, MFAT, Callaghan Innovation, Special Group, Kotahi, MBIE, Te Puni Kōkiri and Treasury.

A record number of entries have been received and the awards finalists will be announced on October 10. To find out more about the awards click here.

- NZ Herald

Cameron Bagrie is Chief Economist, and Con Williams an Agri Economist, at ANZ New Zealand.

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