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Country Forecast New Zealand July 2018 Updater

Country Forecast New Zealand July 2018 Updater

  • July 2018
  • ID: 1697686
  • Format: PDF
  • By The Economist Intelligence Unit

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  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the governing coalition between the Labour Party and New Zealand First (NZ First) to serve a full term in office. However, policy differences between the parties and with the Green Party, which supports the coalition on key votes, will intensify in the run-up to the next election, which must be held in 2020.
  • The Labour-NZ First government will be more interventionist than its predecessor. During its term it will look to tighten rules on immigration and increase the proportion of affordable housing. Other priorities include increasing the availability of affordable housing and improving workers' rights.
  • New Zealand's concern about China's growing influence in the Pacific region will increase over the forecast period. The government will attempt to support Australia, the country's closest international partner, in its efforts to counter China's influence by increasing aid contributions to Pacific island countries.
  • We expect the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ, the central bank) to keep its policy interest rate, the official cash rate, unchanged at 1.75% in 2018. It will start to tighten monetary policy from early 2019. The central bank's new Policy Targets Agreement, which mandates it to consider the level of employment in the economy in addition to inflation targeting, will not constrain the RBNZ's policymaking. Inflation will remain within the target band of 1-3% in 2018-22.
  • We forecast GDP growth of 2.3% a year on average in 2018-22. Weaker population growth and the winding-down of post-earthquake reconstruction work will dampen the expansion of domestic demand.
  • US policy interest rates surpassed those in New Zealand in June 2018. As we expect US interest rates to rise faster than those in New Zealand over the rest of 2018 and in 2019, this will exert depreciatory pressure on the New Zealand dollar. However, we expect the RBNZ to start raising interest rates gradually from 2019, which will help to reduce the pressure for depreciation. We forecast that the exchange rate will average NZ$1.48:US$1 a year over 2018-22.
  • The current-account deficit will average the equivalent of 2.9% of GDP in 2018-22 as shortfalls on the trade and income accounts more than offset a surplus on the services account.






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