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Trade agreements, exporting rules and barriers to trade

Getting the best deal from international trade is vital for the New Zealand economy and the prosperity of all New Zealanders. The Government works to secure access to overseas markets for New Zealand businesses and to ensure that we get the best trading conditions possible.

As an exporter, you are in a position to benefit from the numerous preferential trade agreements and export schemes that New Zealand has negotiated internationally over the years, and which are designed to promote the export of our goods. Despite these agreements, businesses still experience difficulties or barriers to exporting their goods overseas. Government agencies may be able to reduce, resolve or even prevent some of these barriers from happening.

Red tape can push up costs.

Trade barriers can make it costly or difficult to export to a particular market. When they are created by government policies and regulations they are often referred to as non-tariff barriers (NTBs). Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are rules, such as government policies and regulations that make it costly or difficult to export to a particular market. You might experience these as ‘red tape’, ‘roadblocks’ or ‘costs of doing business’.

The barriers can arise with any type of export from food to digital goods and services. For example:

  • Administrative procedures
  • quantity restrictions (such as quotas)
  • licensing requirements
  • data storage requirements
  • privacy requirements
  • board director requirements
  • procurement rules
  • price controls
  • subsidies
  • product labelling requirements.

What help is available to break the barriers?

Who to talk to about non-tariff barriers


If you’re a manufacturer, and you’re facing regulatory restrictions on your exports such as standards, rules in selling to foreign governments, or other restrictions blocking you from exporting, contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Email |

Education services

If you export education services, including teaching international students in New Zealand or overseas and face trade barriers such as licensing requirements, investment and foreign ownership restrictions or qualifications recognition contact, Education New Zealand for help.

Email |
Website | Education New Zealand (external link)

Services and investment

If you are a service provider or investor and encounter trade barriers such as foreign equity caps, data storage requirements or procurement rules that are unfairly preventing you from exporting your services offshore, get in touch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) for assistance.

Phone | MFAT Exporter helpline 0800 824 605
Email |
Website | MFAT (external link)

Food and primary industries

If you are facing barriers for your food and primary sector exports the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) can help deal with barriers for food safety and standards, or animal welfare.

Phone | 0800 00 83 33
Email |
Website | MPI: Exporting (external link)

Trade barriers clearing house

For additional information on barriers to trade; for trade barriers not covered above; or you are unsure where to register your issue, the below site can help. Inquiries registered will be directed to the agency best able to assist.

Website | (external link)

Customs help

Customs can help with advice on a range of export issues including border clearance issues, tariff classification, and rules of origin. Contact New Zealand Customs:

Email |

Make sure your products are exported securely and in the best condition.

Make sure your products are exported securely and in the best condition.

Customs’ initiatives such as the Secure Exports Scheme (external link) can help.

Key exporting rules

Here are some links to key information on international agreements and Customs’ role in the export sector. On these pages, you’ll access all the information, guidance and documentation you will need in your important role as a New Zealand exporter.

Preparing to export (external link)  — If you are intending to export goods out of New Zealand, there are specific processes, documentation and clearance that are required. Find out what you need to know for successfully exporting your goods at Preparing to export.

Clear your exports (external link)   — Are you intending to export commercial goods in your luggage? Learn the rules for the goods take out of the country but intend to bring back, such as product samples or prototypes.

Lodge your export entry (external link)  — Find out how to get customs clearance for your exported goods along with schemes and initiatives that may benefit you as an exporter.

Export payments and refunds (external link)  — Find out the payments you might expect when exporting goods out of New Zealand, and information on refunds.

Departing commercial ships (external link)  — Find out what the documentation and clearance requirements are when leaving New Zealand.

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