Asia’s underrated markets for NZ agribiz

Opportunity is not the whole story.  New Zealand knows the Asian opportunity: Asia makes up a quarter of global GDP and ANZ expects this to rise to over 50 per cent by 2050. That’s a big playground. 

" Opportunity [for NZ agriculture in Asia] is only part of the story."
Cameron Bagrie & Con Williams, Chief Economist and & Agri Economist, ANZ NZ

But 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.

ANZ’s new report, New Horizons, Alternative Asian Markets , 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.

China is certainly the keystone but the arch of opportunity is much from mature markets like Japan to emerging South East Asia. We need 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.

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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 per cent to 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.


New Horizons 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.

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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.


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 5-10 years are Japan, Thailand and Indonesia.

The report shows 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.

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

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

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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