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Virtual Global Trade Venture: Australia and New Zealand 2021

June 23, 2021
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Australia and New Zealand are both highly developed, internationally competitive, advanced market economies. Australia’s economy ranks 13th in the world by nominal GDP—on par with countries such as South Korea, Russia and Spain. In addition, Australia is the sixth-largest country by land mass, covering roughly the same area as the lower 48 U.S. states.

New Zealand ranks 53rd among global economies, similar in size to that of Greece and Peru, and is the sixth-largest island country by land mass, falling between the UK and the Philippines. It has occupied the top spot on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings four times in the last six years. Australia and New Zealand are both open market economies with minimal restrictions on the import of goods and services, which has increased productivity, stimulated growth, and made both economies more flexible and dynamic. In light of the factors outlined here, Australia and New Zealand should be included in Wisconsin companies’ export growth strategies.


The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is organizing a virtual Global Trade Venture to Australia and New Zealand from Nov. 8-19, 2021, to help Wisconsin companies connect with export partners in these markets.

To adapt to the pandemic, WEDC converted its Global Trade Ventures into a virtual format that consists of online meetings between Wisconsin companies and potential customers, distributors and other prospective partners in international markets. In their ongoing efforts to protect their citizens, both Australia and New Zealand have kept many pandemic-related restrictions in place; WEDC’s virtual trade venture to these markets will help Wisconsin exporters take the first steps and be ready to do business there once restrictions are lifted. After learning about your company and products, WEDC’s in-country trade representatives will bring potential partners and distributors to you. All participants need to do is show up ready to make their pitch and ask questions to determine if the potential partner is a good fit.

Companies do not need to have prior export experience in order to benefit from this trade venture. Whether companies are new to these markets or are looking to expand their presence there, they are invited and encouraged to participate in this trade venture, as long as they view exporting as an integral part of their overall corporate growth strategy.


The U.S. and Australia maintain a robust trading relationship underpinned by shared democratic values, common interests and cultural affinities. Economic, academic and people-to-people ties are vibrant and strong. Australia is a highly receptive, open and transparent market for U.S. products and services, with Australians purchasing 12.3% of their imports from the U.S. The U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement has boosted U.S. exports to Australia by more than 100% since coming into force in 2005.

With just under $568 million in imports from Wisconsin in 2020, Australia ranks as the state’s seventh-largest export destination. Australia has remained an appealing and profitable market for Wisconsin companies for many years. It offers very few barriers to entry, a familiar legal and corporate framework, and a sophisticated yet straightforward business culture. Although it is important to understand and appreciate Australia’s cultural differences—and a country briefing offered as part of the Global Trade Venture will cover this topic—it is also an ideal market for new-to-export companies, as well as those seeking to further expand their business/distribution networks in country. Australia is a market that seeks innovative, advanced technology product and service solutions. Wisconsin companies will find it to be a friendly market with many potential buyers for their products and services—especially if they offer innovations that solve problems for companies in their respective sectors.

Australia has been one of the few countries worldwide to have fared well throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With case numbers kept very low and vaccination numbers on the rise, the Australian economy took a small hit of 2.5% contraction and is on the rebound, with 4.5% GDP growth predicted by the end of 2021.


New Zealand is a wealthy, sophisticated market with a highly transparent and open business environment, undergirded by a stable democratic system. In 2020, the World Bank ranked New Zealand first in the world in terms of doing business and for transparency. The country consistently ranks high in measures of business honesty and integrity—attributes that make it an appealing market in spite of its small size. New Zealand’s economy is highly dependent on international trade, with commodity exports and tourism making up a major share. The U.S. is New Zealand’s third-leading trading partner, after China and Australia (parties with which New Zealand has free trade agreements). In 2020, imports from the U.S. totaled $3.6 billion and represented 9.66% of New Zealand’s total imports. Key categories of exports to New Zealand include aircraft and parts, agricultural machinery, and medical and pharmaceutical products. There is room for growth in Wisconsin’s exports to New Zealand, which totaled just over $89 million in 2020 (down from $122 million the prior year).

New Zealand has also fared well, with very low cases, throughout the pandemic. However, given its size and reliance on tourism, growth and recovery are happening more slowly for New Zealand. GDP growth is predicted to be essentially flat for 2021, with 4% growth predicted for 2022 as international travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.


During the trade venture, participants will be scheduled for one-on-one meetings with potential partners in the target markets. These partners are identified based on each participating company’s specific goals and objectives. Each participant in the trade venture will also receive a market assessment for Australia and New Zealand, detailing considerations to keep in mind when introducing their product or service into these markets. WEDC has eyes and ears on the ground, in the form of Wisconsin’s in-market authorized trade representatives—thus making it easier for Wisconsin companies to find local partners they can trust, taking some of the guesswork out of launching in a new market or growing exports within the market. With all your appointments arranged for you, you can focus on business rather than logistics and scheduling.

WEDC’s in-market trade rep will screen businesses for the best matches to your firm’s target partner, whether that’s a distributor, agent, or end-user customer. Participating in a virtual trade venture is much less expensive than traveling to the market for an exploratory visit. In addition, the virtual format allows for the inclusion of an additional market (New Zealand) without an extra flight—and guarantees that meetings can still take place, even if the target countries are in a state of lockdown. With a series of virtual meetings, you will be able to evaluate multiple candidates and select the top ones to visit and engage in more in-depth conversations once international business travel resumes without restrictions.

Because of the time difference, meetings will be held over the span of a two-week period, at times that are the afternoon in Wisconsin and the morning in Australia and New Zealand. Companies in the following sectors are especially encouraged to participate:

  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Industrial machinery
  • Mining equipment
  • Agriculture, horticulture and forestry equipment
  • Food and beverage processing and equipment
  • Medical and health technology
  • Maritime
  • Construction and infrastructure
  • Supplies and equipment for the restaurant and hospitality industries
  • Financial technology and other service-based industries



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