Almost half their export value went to China in 2019 . . .
New Zealand’s Māori business leaders, citing COVID-19-related disruptions, expect a significant drop in commodity exports in 2020 after they saw the value of their exports hit a record-high in 2019. Over half of these exports went to China last year, and COVID-related restrictions continue to take their toll. Iwi Collective Partnership General Manager Maru Samuels said that even the COVID-related lockdowns that began last week in the Beijing area “had an immediate impact on New Zealand lobster exports.” Māori business leaders remain optimistic about future fisheries and agriculture exports despite expecting the downturn to last for two years.
The bustling Māori economy . . .
The 1,200 Māori authorities – those that receive, manage, and/or administer assets held in common Māori ownership – exported C$650 million worth of goods in 2019, more than doubling the 2010 export value, according to Stats New Zealand. While all export sectors have been growing over the last few years, seafood – including fish, crayfish, and mussels – has grown the most over the last decade and made up almost half of the value of 2019 exports. Another 500 Māori small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that operate outside of these Māori authorities exported C$177 million worth of goods in 2019.
Optimism remains . . .
One reason for Māori business optimism during this downturn is their lower levels of debt compared to non-Māori businesses, especially in the agriculture sector. Another, at least for Māori SMEs, is that a quarter of their exports went to Australia, which has weathered the pandemic fairly well despite recent outbreaks. But mid-COVID and post-COVID export plans for Indigenous businesses in New Zealand and Canada also speak to the need for market diversification, the resiliency of supply chains, and further economic inclusion. INDIGI-X, an initiative sponsored by governments and Indigenous organizations from both Canada and New Zealand to facilitate connections and encourage economic growth, is a step in this direction. It began a four-week-long virtual exchange between Indigenous professionals from Canada and New Zealand last Friday.