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Learn Your World – New Zealand

To support your global practice, ACC Docket offers country-specific fun facts from your peers who've been there — literally.

Economy

GDP (purchasing power parity in USD) $165.987 billion


Population

4,596,000
(2015 Census)


Corruption

According to Transparency International’s “2015 Corruption Perception Index,” New Zealand was the fourth “cleanest” (i.e., least corrupt) country out of the 168 surveyed.


Economic Forecast

Economic growth is projected to slow to 1.9 percent in 2016 before recovering slightly in 2017. Activity is being held back by a sharp fall in global dairy prices, softer external demand, a diminished boost from the Canterbury rebuild, and a predicted drop in agricultural output due to drought as a result of El Niño. A normalization of weather conditions, along with additional monetary stimulus and faster global growth, should provide greater support to exports and business investment in 2017, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.


W

hen traveling, I usually get one of three reactions when I say I live in New Zealand. “I’ve been there” (often followed by “and loved it”); “I’ve always wanted to go” (often followed by “but it’s so far away”); or simply “I don’t know where that is.” Those in the first two categories can probably give you the summary: nice landscapes, good food, and friendly people. Those in the third category will usually figure it out when you tell them that it’s close to Australia.

When it comes to doing business, New Zealand recently ranked second in the World Bank’s index (lagging behind only Singapore) measuring the “ease of doing business.” Some of that may be due to the fact that New Zealand is a small nation, and therefore more easily manageable. But a lot of it is deliberate; New Zealand is an export-focused nation, and a nimble environment is needed to allow business to compete on the world stage, particularly given the geographical isolation.

Formal business meetings in New Zealand will usually take place in an office boardroom, like in most parts of the world. But most initial meetings, or meetings with any tinge of informality, will often take place over a “flat white” (strong, milky espresso) in a cafe. Having recently hosted an over-caffeinated US attorney that was six “flat whites” in by lunch, I have seen this go comically wrong.

It’s common to have a bit of “friendly banter” in the office. “Kiwis” (someone from New Zealand, named after the native bird) usually favour “to the point” communication that leans toward the informal, although there’s always still a need to gauge the situation and audience to know exactly where to sit on that spectrum.

Outside of the office, there are a lot of different things to do — it’s one of the few countries in the world where you can snowboard and surf on the same day. Or, if something more low-key is your thing, you should be able to easily find enough top-notch wine and cheese to stay happy.

About the Author

Matt Vaughan is general counsel of Xero, an online accounting company based in Wellington, New Zealand.