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New Zealand Overview: Economy

Agriculture, historically the mainstay of the economy, now employs only 10% of the population. Beginning in the 1980s, New Zealand transformed its highly protected and regulated economy into one that was much more privatized, market oriented, and deregulated, and services and industry now make up a much greater percentage of the gross domestic product. The agricultural sector has diversified from a reliance on sheep raising to such additional enterprises as dairying, forestry, and horticulture. Wheat, barley, potatoes, legumes, fruits (including wine grapes), and vegetables are grown; wool, beef, lamb, mutton, and fish are additional agricultural products. The mining sector produces coal, gold, iron, and natural gas. There is extensive food processing and wood and paper products, textiles, machinery, and transportation equipment are manufactured. Banking, insurance, and tourism are also important. The principal exports are dairy products, meat, wood and wood products, fruit, crude oil, wine, and fish. Imports include petroleum and petroleum products, machinery and equipment, vehicles and vehicle parts, textiles, electronics, and plastic. The main trading partners are China, Australia, the United States, and Japan.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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