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War Economy

Direction of Trade

Direction of Trade

Under these and other influences there has been a steady change in the direction of New Zealand trade. Though Britain has remained by far New Zealand's most important trading partner, her share of both exports and imports declined during the war and has continued to decline up to 1964.

Chart 86 shows changes in the direction of trade.

chart of trade statistics

Chart 86

Britain was taking four-fifths of New Zealand's exports before the war; in the early 1960s she received less than half. The most important increase in exports was to the United States of America, which took 5 per cent before the war and 16 per cent in the early page 558 1960s. A large proportion of New Zealand's exports of beef and veal have been diverted to the United States.

Initially the decline in supplies from Britain was a war effect, though many other influences have contributed to it since. The ground which Britain lost as an exporting nation when she was bearing the major part of the Allied war burden could not be fully recovered. Britain supplied 49 per cent of New Zealand's imports before the war and 42 per cent in the early 1960s. There were many changes over this period, but a large offsetting increase came from Australia, which supplied 13 per cent before the war and 19 per cent in the early 1960s.

A number of smaller trading partners have become increasingly important; for example, Japan took 2.3 per cent of New Zealand's exports before the war and 4.5 per cent in the early 1960s; while France's share increased from 2 per cent to 6 per cent.

New Zealand's favourable trade balance with Britain is offset by a substantial annual deficit in invisible transactions, particularly freights and debt servicing. Australia, which has moved up to be the second most important supplier of imports, takes a much smaller proportion of New Zealand's exports. Here, there is no offsetting balance of invisible items and the continued substantial trading deficit with Australia has become a question of concern to many New Zealanders.

New Zealand has been slowly increasing her trade with Asian countries, and hopes to continue to do so as their living standards rise. Japan, in particular, is taking growing quantities of New Zealand meat.