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The Rise of New Zealand’s Emerging High-tech Sector

In what could be a telltale sign of New Zealand’s robust digital economy, a new economic report reveals the key role the United States plays as an export market. Moreover, it shows the increasing role of high-technology New Zealand products in trade, Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor disclosed.

New Zealand is a trading nation and supporting our country’s hard-working exporters remains a priority for this Government. It’s crucial we show the diversification of high-quality exports that New Zealand has to offer – and in doing so accelerate our economic recovery from COVID-19.

– Damien O’Connor, New Zealand Minister, Trade and Export Growth

The report commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade titled “The NZ-US trade relationship: Stability and diversity in a Time of Change”, shows that while the primary sector remains the top NZ exporter, digital services have become a major contributor.

Image credits: NZTECH Annual Report 2021 Final Online -1

O’Connor confirmed that the United States is New Zealand’s third-largest trading partner overall and is now the country’s largest destination for services – receiving over 22% of the total service exports. The report found New Zealand’s primary sector remains the backbone of exports to the United States but showed a significant shift in the balance of products.

What’s more, digital services are a major contributor, with NZ$682 million worth of exports to the US. This export spreads across computer services and software license exports. Thus, US trade and investment has also played a key role in the development of the New Zealand space industry.

That should be a welcome sign for Wellington as the government has been aggressively marketing the technology of the nation. It has spent a sizable amount of money to advertise the nation’s digital services to the world in the hopes of attracting top talent and foreign capital infusion. In addition, such a development should encourage Aoteroa’s ICT sector professionals to do more to contribute to the nation’s digital transformation.

The government is aware of this. The New Zealand technology sector is a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy, creating many jobs, GDP and exports.

In 2021 New Zealand’s top 200 tech exporters earned $13.9 billion and total global digital exports grew by 23%. The Tech Story initiative was a concerted effort to further accelerate that growth by growing the awareness and preference of Aotearoa’s tech sector internationally.

The Tech Story, “We See Tomorrow First”, is a marketing and sales initiative, created in collaboration with industry and government, with a dual mandate: Support the fast-growing digital technology sector and help take those innovations to the global market, and at the same time attract international investment and tech talent to New Zealand.

“New Zealand has a unique perspective on how we create technology and lead tech businesses. It’s a perspective, building on Māori values of kaitiakitanga or guardianship, that now more than ever, the world needs to help create technology to build a better tomorrow,” says NZ Tech’s Chief Strategy Officer, Julie Gill.

A key driver to Aoteroa’s success in technology is government support. New Zealand’s technology sector is getting all the support it needs to make digitalisation happen. Not only did Wellington advertise its tech talent in the best light possible, but also it is involving them in its comprehensive planning for technology moving forward.

As reported on OpenGov Asia, the New Zealand government is letting all stakeholders pitch in in its digital road map for the years to come. It shows how much the island nation values its people. It’s no surprise technological breakthroughs such as how Artificial Intelligence is used to fight glaucoma has become increasingly common in the country these days. 


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