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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



The value of New Zealand's overseas trade per person is one of the highest in the world, greater than that of Australia, the United Kingdom, or Canada.

Representative figures for 1964 were:

Overseas Trade per Person

New Zealand 279
Canada 271
Australia 193
United Kingdom 184

In view of the importance of this trade, it has been the policy of the New Zealand Government to appoint Trade Commissioners to selected overseas posts for the purpose of providing exporters with information and advice on such matters as market prospects, shipping services, selling methods, customs difficulties, and competition from other countries. Moreover, they must be stationed wherever there is a reasonable prospect of new markets developing. Thus New Zealand offices overseas usually combine trade, consular, and diplomatic services. In some cities, as in Montreal, Vancouver, Port of Spain, and Accra, the Trade Commissioner is the sole New Zealand representative, his duties ranging over all matters in his area affecting New Zealand and of interest to New Zealand. In others, as in Paris, Washington, London, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and New Delhi, in addition to carrying out his specific trade functions, he serves as Economic or Commercial Counsellor or Commercial Secretary to our Ambassadors or High Commissioners. In other cities again, as in Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, where there are no New Zealand embassies or High Commissioners' offices, there may be tourist or consular representatives as well as Trade Commissioners. These trade representatives become familiar figures in many Departments of State in overseas capitals and in the offices of many international organisations, as well as in commercial trading circles.

Within this varied framework lies the Trade Commissioner's constant function as an officer of the Department of Industries and Commerce, regularly servicing the various divisions of the Department.

Trade Commissioners are concerned with the whole of New Zealand's economic development. As an example, they have always played a useful part in stimulating overseas investment in New Zealand, for, besides assisting the development of the national economy, capital inflow makes an important contribution towards balancing exchange transactions. Thus the Trade Commissioner's role in export development is to help to expand the volume of exports and to develop new markets. This role can be considered from two angles – trade-promotion work (the direct promotion of export sales), and trade-relations work (negotiations over tariffs and trade agreements). Each complements the other and in both fields the Trade Commissioner is able to give assistance to New Zealand exporting interests.

There are 19 New Zealand trade offices located as follows:

London Tokyo
Brussels Hong Kong
Paris Kuala Lumpur
Washington Singapore
New York New Delhi
San Francisco Canberra
Los Angeles Sydney
Montreal Melbourne
Vancouver Athens
Port of Spain Auckland (Pacific)

In addition to the New Zealand officers seconded abroad, there are a number of staff recruited at the posts. Included among these are marketing officers at New Delhi, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Port of Spain, and Hong Kong, where their local knowledge is of great help to the Trade Commissioners in handling trade inquiries and trade-promotion work.

Although this trade representation is strategically placed, there are many countries and territories in which New Zealand is not represented. These areas (for example, parts of Europe, the Mediterranean, Central and South America) are visited from time to time by Trade Commissioners, sometimes as members of trade-survey teams. It is important, however, to note that the territories covered by the Trade Commissioners are wider than those indicated by the formal location of the posts. The Senior Trade Commissioner in London, for instance, obtains trade information about European countries through the trade representation service such countries maintain in London, through other contacts he has developed, and through visits to centres such as Bonn, and Rome. Similarly, the Trade Commissioner in Accra covers Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Congo.

by John Bernard Prendergast, M.COM., Director, Overseas Trade Division, Department of Industries and Commerce, Wellington.


by John Bernard Prendergast, M.COM., Director, Overseas Trade Division, Department of Industries and Commerce, Wellington.