The economy of New Zealand is a market economy which is greatly dependent on international trade, mainly with Australia, the European Union, the United States, China and Japan. It has only small manufacturing and high-tech sectors, being strongly focused on tourism and primary industries like agriculture (though both sectors are highly profitable). Economic free-market reforms of the last decades have removed many barriers to foreign investment, and the World Bank in 2005 praised New Zealand as being the most business-friendly country in the world, before Singapore.
Traditionally, New Zealand's economy was built upon on a narrow range of primary products, such as wool, meat and dairy products. As an example, from approximately 1920 to the late 1930s, the dairy export quota was usually around 35% of the total exports, and in some years made up almost 45% of all New Zealand's exports. Due to the high demand for these primary products - such as the New Zealand wool boom of 1951 - New Zealand enjoyed high standards of living. However, commodity prices for these exports declined, and New Zealand lost its preferential trading position with the United Kingdom in 1973, due to the latter joining the European Economic Community. Partly as a result, from 1970 to 1990, the relative New Zealand purchasing power adjusted GDP per capita declined from about 115% of the OECD average to 80%.
Since 1984, the government of New Zealand has undertaken major economic restructuring, moving an agrarian economy dependent on concessionary British market access toward a more industrialised, free market economy that can compete globally. This growth has boosted real incomes, broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector, and contained inflationary pressures. Inflation remains among the lowest in the industrial world. Per capita GDP has been moving up towards the levels of the big West European economies since the trough in 1990, but the gap remains significant. New Zealand's heavy dependence on trade leaves its growth prospects vulnerable to economic performance in Asia, Europe, and the United States.
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