As I posted last week, the value of the goods New Zealand exports to China grew by a factor of about 10 between 2001 and 2014, thanks largely to the free trade agreement NZ and China signed in 2008. In our report The Auckland-China Relationship: Rhetoric, Reality and Opportunity, we looked at how service exports had done, too. We couldn't make a year-on-year comparison because of the way Statistics NZ releases the data, but it's clear that the services we sell China didn't boom nearly as much. They increased by only about 40% in real terms between 2006 and 2013. Nonetheless, the chart below shows two pieces of very good news for NZ.
The first story there is the one you know from the press: the number of Chinese tourists visiting New Zealand has gone through the roof in the past ten years. 371,552 came here from Mainland China on tourist visas last year, according to Statistics NZ, and more of them are "free and independent travellers" (setting their own itinerary, rather than travelling in groups) than ever before.
But there's another story there, too. It's the rise of business and financial services, which grew from a scratch beginning to $84 m in 2013. You won't find the business and financial services sector touted anywhere as an area of economic opportunity for New Zealand. In fact, the MFAT-NZTE China Strategy doesn't even mention it. But it's good news for New Zealand. And it's great news for Auckland. Auckland is home to the bulk of our business and financial services, and to the majority of our Mandarin speakers, and it's perfectly placed to capitalise on this digital export business.