3. Forward policy actions for consideration

Previous chapters have served to increase understanding about women’s engagement in trade as workers, entrepreneurs and business leaders, and consumers, and the extent to which New Zealand’s trade agreements reflect gender-specific concerns. In this section, a number of policy actions are suggested to lower barriers to trade faced by women, to increase their likelihood of reaping the benefits from trade, and to translate gender equality objectives into trade policies. These suggestions aim to contribute to the ongoing conversation on trade and gender in the context of New Zealand’s Trade for All agenda.

The following trade and gender policy actions can help to ensure that open markets and a rules-based international trading system in good working order contribute to women’s economic empowerment.

  • Making trade agreements more gender-sensitive: Ex ante impact assessments, the optimisation of existing gender-related provisions, new or revised gender-responsive provisions, and strengthened monitoring and institutional support can make New Zealand’s trade agreements more gender-sensitive.

  • Support for gender-sensitive policymaking in plurilateral contexts: New Zealand could support and promote gender-responsive policy initiatives such as the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement (GTAGA), application of the non-discrimination clause in the WTO Reference Paper on Services Domestic Regulation, ongoing work in APEC and elsewhere on gender-responsive standards, and the ongoing initiatives in WTO on trade and gender.

  • Communication of the benefits of trade agreements: SMEs are less aware and less able to take advantage of, the opportunities under trade agreements. Efforts to ensure that the benefits of trade deals are more widely understood, in particular by potential women exporters who may have more shallow networks, should be undertaken. Increasing public understanding of the benefits of trade and trade agreements more widely can also help to create constituencies that favour open markets

  • Market access: New Zealand could prioritise market access reforms that would particularly benefit women. Although New Zealand is generally an open economy, there are areas, particularly as regards services, that could be considered for further market opening, including as regards movement of people. Lower income consumers, where women are disproportionately found, spend more of the income.

  • Aid for Trade: Outside New Zealand, gender gaps are generally greater and women often face substantial legal and administrative barriers to their participation in economic activity in addition to strongly gendered cultural norms. Thus far, women’s economic empowerment has not been a stated objective in New Zealand’s Aid for Trade strategy. New Zealand could consider leveraging Aid for Trade to contribute to more gender equal outcomes by mainstreaming gender in its Aid for Trade strategy. The OECD and WTO are undertaking a comprehensive joint project on integrating gender equality objectives in Aid for Trade that could inform such a strategy.

  • Trade facilitation: Women-owned and women-led businesses in New Zealand, as in other OECD countries, tend to be smaller than those led by men. Administrative processes that are costly, time consuming, and non-transparent increase trade costs of small firms more than large ones that have more resources to better navigate challenging business environments. Facilitating trade through simpler processes and more transparent procedures will increase small businesses’ propensity to export, and decrease their trade costs. Although New Zealand ranks well among OECD countries in terms of facilitating trade, a more focused gender lens could be applied in order to ensure inclusivity in its policy formulation and those that are affected by facilitating measures.

  • Representation of women: Ensuring that women are engaged in trade policymaking both as senior policy makers and as consulted stakeholders will go a long way to ensuring trade policies work for women. A first step requires monitoring their involvement at all levels of policymaking.

  • Trade promotion: Export promotion has been prioritised in New Zealand, both in terms of resources devoted to it, and the services its trade promotion authority, NZTE, provides. These programmes and services could be leveraged to ensure women entrepreneurs and exporters are fully supported in their export journeys.

  • Professional and business networks: Women generally have shallower business networks (Korinek, Moïsé and Tange, 2021[1]) and seem to benefit less from traditional business networks (International Trade Centre, 2019[2]) than men. Although not strictly within the purview of government, some suggestions that aim to augment the usefulness of professional and business networks for women are included here.

  • Data gaps: This Review combines different data sources and extracts as much gender-differentiated information as possible from existing sources. Increasing the collection of gender-differentiated data is one of the stated mandates both of the OECD 2021 Ministerial Council Statement1 and the WTO Joint Ministerial Declaration on the Advancement of Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment within Trade.2

  • Domestic policies: Several domestic policy areas could be prioritised to ensure that women are in a position to take full advantage of the benefits of trade. Some of the major ones that have emerged from this Review of New Zealand are included here.

The New Zealand trade agreements that have been notified to WTO contain few gender-specific provisions. This section aims to indicate options for New Zealand to consider in future trade agreements to promote gender equality, women’s economic empowerment, and women’s participation in trade.

Before entering into a trade agreement, New Zealand undertakes a comprehensive analysis of its impacts in the form of a National Interest Analysis (NIA). NIAs have increased greatly in scope and depth since they were first undertaken. They cover all chapters of the trade agreement and include computable general equilibrium (CGE) modelling of the impacts of greater market access and lowering of non-tariff measures. However, ex ante impact assessments do not presently include a gender dimension and do not generally include estimates of job gains and losses. Gender-differentiated assessments could be carried out as part of the NIA or as a stand-alone exercise,3 and could be undertaken by New Zealand alone or through pooling resources with other Parties to the trade agreement under negotiation. In the case of an agreement with a less developed country, New Zealand could assess the potential for measuring the likely impacts on the partner country in a gender differentiated way or provide resources necessary for the partner country to carry out its own gender impact assessment.4

Assessments should measure gender-differentiated impacts of market access in at least the main sectors that the negotiations cover, identifying sectors in which new export markets could be of particular importance for New Zealand’s women-led businesses or for women’s employment. The scope of the NIAs could also include estimated price impacts of the trade agreement, which would shed further light on the agreement’s impacts on more vulnerable groups and those in lower income categories where women are disproportionately represented. As trade agreements evolve to include more gender-specific provisions, NIAs could assess first-order effects ‒ direct effects of changes in market access and trade reforms ‒ but also indirect effects that will suggest how women may be impacted by the different chapters in the trade agreement.

Ex ante impact assessments can inform negotiating strategies. Trade negotiators could prioritise for new or increased market access and national treatment commitments those goods and, especially, services sectors that are of particular importance for New Zealand women workers or traders, as revealed by ex ante gender impact assessments and other studies such as this Trade and Gender Review. For example, efforts towards the mutual recognition of foreign qualifications in professional services could be strengthened, which could help to reduce entry barriers for foreign professionals but also open up overseas opportunities for New Zealanders. The OECD Services Trade Restrictiveness database can inform as to restrictions on services provision in New Zealand and in its partner countries. In some services where women are most present, e.g. education services, there is little trade. Specific modes of delivery of education services could be prioritised for trade, e.g. distance education (delivered through mode 1) and presence of natural persons (mode 4).

Impact assessments can also help to identify sectors in which women-led businesses or women’s employment need to be supported in the face of foreign competition through scheduling of market access commitments within the trade agreement, or complementary policies or programmes.

New Zealand’s current trade agreements leave considerable room for introducing gender-responsive practices without amending the treaties, even in existing trade agreements that do not explicitly mention women, for example in provisions for cooperation and implementing arrangements.5

The list of cooperation areas that trade agreements or related Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) identify are generally “not an exhaustive list and other items may be added to the cooperative programme.”6 Labour MoUs and chapters in several of New Zealand’s existing trade agreements also provide for the participation of civil society in identifying areas for cooperation.7

Cooperation in the context of agreements with countries at a similar level of development or gender equality8 could include: gathering and analysing data about gendered pay gaps within enterprises operating within each Party’s territory;9 sharing practices on parental leave, child care policies and formalisation of unpaid work; gathering and sharing gender-differentiated data on access to finance; sharing experience and information with a view to increasing women’s participation on boards and in senior management roles; gender-positive policies as regards government procurement; supporting women and other vulnerable groups through trade promotion initiatives; and developing trade missions that are inclusive of women.10 Cooperation in the context of agreements with countries at differing levels of gender equality and development could include, for example, capacity-building initiatives for women entrepreneurs including in the areas of agricultural extension, export readiness and digital skills.

New Zealand has a number of active negotiations under way that will include gender chapters or provisions, including the NZ-UK FTA, the NZ-EU FTA, and the Pacific Alliance FTA. These negotiations could give consideration to the recommendations below.

New Zealand could consistently signal its commitment to gender equality goals11 and reaffirm recognised international legal standards on gender equality such as CEDAW, SDG5 and ILO Declaration or Conventions. References to legal standards could be phrased as “Each Party reaffirms its commitment to implement its obligations under [relevant instrument]” for trade agreements as between parties to these instruments (Box 1.1) or “Parties undertake to consider ratifying or implementing [relevant instruments that it is not yet party to]” in the case of a trade agreement with a country not yet party to an instrument that is important for gender equality, most notably CEDAW.

In agreements with countries where gender gaps are wide and included explicitly in legal and regulatory frameworks, cooperation provisions could include road maps that work toward making those national regulations and legal provisions more gender-equal. In agreements with countries that are more gender-equal, firms could be encouraged to share information on wages to improve knowledge about gender wage gaps and share best practices in reducing them.12 This type of provision might be included in Services or Investment Chapters, “encouraging enterprises operating within a Party’s territory or subject to its jurisdiction” to share wage information in the same way that recent trade agreements’ investment chapters13 encourage enterprises to voluntarily incorporate corporate social responsibility principles into their internal policies

New Zealand could continue to include non-regression clauses in future trade and investment agreements14with explicit reference to gender equality laws and policies.15 Non-regression clauses could be included in the parts of future agreements that are subject to monitoring, review and dispute settlement mechanisms.

All Parties’ right to regulate should be safeguarded. New Zealand practice includes protections for policy objectives such as public health, safety, environment, public morals, prudential financial reasons, and remedial action of historical discriminations against Māori. This has been done through definitions, exceptions and carve outs in its trade agreements. New Zealand goes much further than many other countries’ in that it routinely includes a Treaty of Waitangi exception in its trade agreements. New Zealand could make explicit further policy priorities such as promotion of equality between women and men in its safeguards.

Provisions favourable to gender equality could be reaffirmed in case of conflict with a trade rule.16 One way would be through adding reference to CEDAW and/or other legal frameworks in favour of gender equality in wording currently found in trade agreements’ final provisions (new wording in italics): “Each Party reaffirms its rights and obligations under the WTO Agreement and other agreements to which the Parties are party, including CEDAW17 and subjecting the provision to dispute settlement.

Within the WTO, the Reference paper on services domestic regulation specifies that when “adopting or maintaining measures relating to the authorisation for the supply of a service, the Member shall ensure that […] such measures do not discriminate between men and women.” A footnote specifies that “Differential treatment that is reasonable and objective, and aims to achieve a legitimate purpose, and adoption by Members of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women, shall not be considered discrimination for the purposes of this provision.”18 GTAGA includes similar wording. Future trade agreements could include provisions outlining how competent bodies work toward greater recognition of qualifications in services and mutual recognition of licenses.

Future negotiations could address issues of work permits for accompanying spouses of services providers. An asymmetry of behaviours by gender is often illustrated in willingness to leave employment opportunities to accompany a spouse who has been hired abroad: men may be less likely than women to interrupt their careers to follow their spouse’s professional opportunity abroad. Moreover, dual earner couples have become the majority of couples in OECD countries, so regulations involving spouses’ work status could be better mainstreamed. New Zealand could address the question of accompanying spouse visas in its bilateral trade negotiations, or as an issue for discussion in the plurilateral fora in which it participates.

Further review of SPS regulations and stronger disciplines on those that are overly burdensome and streamlining health-related border controls would benefit smaller producers and traders, including women, as would lower-income households where women are disproportionately found.

The importance of monitoring and review of trade agreements provisions cannot be overstated. Agreements should set periodicity and dates for monitoring, indicate who is responsible for it, and specify that monitoring should include analysing differential impacts on men and on women using gender-disaggregated data. Gender-specific aspects to be monitored should include: whether women are availing themselves of the possibilities under the trade agreement, including indications of obstacles to women benefitting from the agreement and a description of the number, nature and impact on gender equality of the cooperation activities mandated by the agreement. It would be desirable to estimate the impacts on jobs of the trade agreements, using gender-differentiated data. Contact Points could be requested to provide gendered reporting on numbers of requests and notifications they receive as part of the monitoring mechanism. A provision could be considered specifying that summaries of the monitoring of the gendered aspects of the agreement should be submitted to the CEDAW Committee as part of the Parties’ periodic reports to the Committee, and to the WTO as part of the Trade Policy Review process.

In the case that the monitoring exercise demonstrates that the agreement is accentuating inequalities between women and men (or for other vulnerable groups), the trade agreement should provide for remedial action to be taken.

The Trade and Gender Committee should be entrusted with a broad monitoring and review role with adequate funding ensured for the Committee’s work, including for the monitoring and review mechanisms.

Future trade agreements should enable gender-related provisions to be subject to the dispute settlement mechanism provided in the agreement, such as in the Canada-Israel bilateral agreement.19 In the case of agreements with countries at a very different level of gender equality to New Zealand, provisions that reaffirm countries’ commitments to international labour standards such as ILO Conventions and CEDAW should be subject to dispute settlement if non-compliance is verified by those relevant bodies.

New Zealand could join with other like-minded countries to promote adherence to the Reference paper on services domestic regulation, the first WTO rule with a gender non-discrimination clause, among WTO Members and regional partners.20 New Zealand could also continue to engage with regional partners to communicate on the benefits of GTAGA, and ensure the Arrangement is given high visibility. Regular meetings of regional bodies, or bilateral consultations on trade agreements with existing partners could be potential fora for such communications. New Zealand should continue its participation in the WTO Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender.

New Zealand could continue to support work on gender-responsive standards in regional and multilateral institutions such as APEC. This includes supporting inclusion of women in standard creation and standard compliance, namely by improving the gender balance of participants in the development of standards, ensuring that the content of standards is gender inclusive, and monitoring the implementation of standards to achieve gender balance. In APEC, New Zealand should continue to support the implementation of the La Serena Roadmap on Women and Inclusive Trade, and the ongoing work of the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy to drive gender mainstreaming across APEC fora. Such work could potentially be brought subsequently to the WTO TBT Committee. New Zealand is also launching an APEC online gender analysis tool to help with building capability and mainstreaming gender analysis. This tool could be promoted for use in other fora.

Discussions with women entrepreneurs suggest that there is a substantial disconnect between the opportunities negotiated by the New Zealand government and the understanding of how to take advantage of market access among MSMEs. In order for market access opportunities to be seized by small businesses, they need to understand what those opportunities are.21 The second most important export challenge experienced by women entrepreneurs, after the distance from export markets, is navigating regulations in foreign markets.22 This is particularly true in services sectors where the majority of women work and own businesses.23 There is no best way to engage with the potential users of trade agreements. Some Ministries embark on road shows to discuss the benefits of recently-negotiated or modernised agreements; others engage with specific groups of stakeholders such as professional women’s organisations or networks of MSMEs; others offer an online chat function to engage with interested exporters or potential exporters; some trade agreements such as the CPTPP include the provision of a ‘one-stop shop’ for SMEs to get information and better understand how the agreement could affect their businesses. New Zealand’s trade promotion agency, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) could play a role as an interface between MFAT and women entrepreneurs or groups of small business owners and leaders. This is a considerable and well-known problem in many countries and could be prioritised; it would also increase public understanding of the benefits of trade and trade agreements more widely.

New Zealand is generally more open to trade than the OECD average, including in services sectors where women work most such as distribution services. Openness to trade in services, however, includes all four modes of services delivery. Moreover, it was seen above that a few traded goods that are specifically destined for women are subject to import tariffs.

Liberalisation of trade in services includes movement of people, which is regulated by different Ministries. The Special Purpose visa requires a labour market test where firms must document all the efforts they have made to hire New Zealand professionals. The long-term skills shortage list visa applies to a specific list of occupations. However, if an occupation is not included on the list, e.g. “programmer” is included but “games designer” is not, requests are generally rejected. Both processes have been reported by entrepreneurs to be lengthy as requests are reviewed by various administrations including immigration, the qualifications authority (NZQA) and NZTE. Ensuring a wider definition of those covered by visa categories and included on skills shortage lists, streamlining of procedures, and enhanced coordination among administrations could reduce delays and allow entrepreneurs to access needed talent. In some countries, for example, skills requirements are waived if the foreign candidate’s remuneration is above a certain threshold, indicating that they possess specific skills that are difficult to source. Although the challenge of accessing visas is not specific to women entrepreneurs, one or few unfilled positions can have a large impact in their smaller businesses.24 Moreover, they often work in sectors that are less traditional, so occupations may be emerging and less well covered on lists of skills shortages.

Although they comprise a small part of household budgets, period products (tampons, sanitary napkins) come at a cost borne solely by women and girls. The tariff revenue collected on period products in 2019 was NZD 100 000 (see chapter on women consumers above). It is likely that this import tariff, although small and often waived, will be passed onto consumers. Given New Zealand’s progressive stance on period poverty,25 making period products available to girls in schools for free, it seems incoherent to charge for importing such products at the border. New Zealand could consider making imports of period products tariff free.

New Zealand’s development assistance budget in 2020 was about NZD 820 million (MFAT, 2021[3]). About 25% of New Zealand’s aid can be attributed to Aid for Trade.26 In 2020-21, gender equality was a priority for scaling up its Overseas Development Assistance (ODA),27 with the aim of having 60% of ODA including gender equality as a significant objective for undertaking development assistance activities. Mainstreaming gender equality in the Aid for Trade component of ODA could be a specific priority, potentially targeting a share of the budget to activities destined to increase women’s participation in trade in recipient countries. Given New Zealand’s global comparative advantages, its Aid for Trade funds could specifically target women in agriculture with better access to finance, facilitating access to agricultural inputs and technologies, compliance with SPS and TBT regulations and agricultural extension;28 or implement programmes connecting women in lower-income countries to markets through access to digital technologies and use of digital platforms.

Work is underway in OECD and WTO to carry out an analysis that aims to shed light on how aid for trade can better impact gender equality, and provide concrete technical support, methods and indicators for governments to better integrate gender issues in their aid for trade strategies. The main areas of focus of aid for trade projects with a gender lens include: capacity building and technical assistance; economic and trade infrastructure; access to credit and equity; networking and digital platforms; and trade and investment climate. A first step may be to evaluate what types of programmes are already underway or recently completed in the Pacific region, where New Zealand engages most of its development assistance. The Development Assistance Committee of the OECD collects data on development assistance programmes with a gender focus and classifies those that are trade-related. In the first instance, the project underway in OECD will highlight some successful aid for trade initiatives that have a gender focus, including in the Pacific region. OECD and WTO could examine the specific case of New Zealand’s aid for trade strategy in the context of their joint project.

As highlighted above, New Zealand ranks well in its trade facilitation performance as compared with other OECD countries and worldwide best practice. Moreover, smaller sized businesses particularly from streamlined and transparent border processes, in particular women-led businesses which tend to be smaller. Some selected areas could nevertheless be further strengthened. More particularly, its trade facilitation processes could be made more gender sensitive by ensuring the participation of women in its consultations and in its exporter programmes, and further adapting its working methods to SMEs.

Areas where further efforts could strengthen its performance and support women-led businesses both as exporters and importers are simplification of documents and streamlining of procedures, including through digital tools. These can provide women-led businesses and SMEs with increased predictability of cross-border trade transactions undertaken.

Few MSMEs in New Zealand appear to be currently in the AEO programme Secure Exports Scheme. In addition, the current registration system does not capture gender-related characteristics of the companies covered by the programme. In order to design strategies that could help increase the coverage of MSMEs and women-led businesses in the AEO programme, more information needs to be collected on the challenges encountered by such firms in meeting requirements to become an AEO and going through the certification process. Targeted outreach to MSMEs and women-led businesses would help firms address these challenges. In addition, explicit strategies could be implemented among border agencies to harmonise the requirements for AEOs, coordinate the certification, manage the follow-up, and coordinate the inspection of AEOs.

More generally, data content and structure and interoperability aspects are by far the most challenging in terms of improving the operation of the Trade Single Window (TSW). Further improvements could build on the progress made in terms of cross-border risk management co-operation, and could focus on aligning data requirements with trading partners’ Single Windows and legal frameworks allowing for the sharing of submitted data.29

In the area of transparency, the average time between publication and entry into force of trade-related regulations could be increased to allow traders, including women-led businesses, more time to adjust their operations. Customs could also consider publishing on its website more comprehensive information on decisions and examples of Customs classification and judicial decisions relating to appeal procedures in order to help guide businesses.30

Additional and user-friendly information could be made available on specific processes trade agreements cover on small parcels (e.g. de minimis,31 specific customs declaration or clearance procedures). Beyond existing trade agreements, more information on taxes and border procedures applied in other markets when exporting small parcels, as well as on how to import small parcels to New Zealand, could be centralised and provided on the Customs website. This can be valuable for many small, women-led businesses, who often engage in parcel trade. In addition, outreach on how to exploit new internationalisation opportunities through trade in parcels could be considered in the context of partnerships such as GTAGA. New Zealand could suggest in the context of GTAGA experience-sharing dialogues and joint implementation of co-operation activities (e.g. on border procedures, including for small parcels, use of Single Windows) to facilitate women’s access to international trade opportunities.

More information could also be made available to guide small businesses - including those that are women-led - on advance rulings systems in economies beyond those with which New Zealand has trade agreements, which could help them access competitively-priced inputs as well as reduce fixed costs of accessing new markets.32

The private sector is currently not a member of New Zealand’s National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF).33 Increasing involvement of associations representing women-led businesses and MSMEs through the NCTF or other structures for regular consultations with the private sector can help identify any inefficiencies and coordination challenges faced in the interaction with Customs or other border agencies when trading (including when using enquiry points, as well as challenges at specific border posts,34 for specific sectors or when trading with specific countries).

Moreover, New Zealand already organises outreach programmes prior to the implementation of international agreements, including agreements that facilitate trade, where women-led businesses are extensively involved. This could provide a basis for outreach, engagement and targeted campaigns on additional topics that can facilitate trade. Such actions can also be supported by the recently established Trade Policy, Engagement and Implementation division in MFAT.

Finally, additional legal challenges will need to be addressed in the digitalisation of trade processes. The OECD Digital Trade Inventory (DTI) highlights that New Zealand has not yet ratified the UN Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts nor the 2017 UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR), which aims to enable the legal use of electronic transferable records both domestically and across borders. The availability of transferable documents and instruments in electronic form benefits digital trade, allowing for faster and more secure transmission while reducing risks associated with unauthorised duplication (Nemoto and López González, 2021[4]).

New Zealand should be commended for its public consultations, both in the context of NIAs and its diverse Trade for All Advisory Board. However, women currently appear under-represented in the submissions to consultations on New Zealand’s planned trade agreements: the vast majority come from business groups in industries which tend to be male-dominated, especially in the primary sectors where many of the submissions originate. Deliberately involving women and women’s groups in the consultation and assessment processes could include engaging and seeking input from sector-specific women’s professional organisations and other civil society partners and stakeholder groups. Such sector-specific organisations for women exist in some of the larger export sectors such as meat and dairy.

Greater efforts could be made to ensure that women are represented in trade negotiating teams and in trade bodies, and encourage diversity in trade negotiating teams in partner countries. Whilst New Zealand currently has women in a range of senior trade positions,35 the gender balance could be better monitored over time and consideration could be given to formalising a gender balance objective in trade-related positions. Moreover, striving to redress the gender balance amongst trade arbitrators could be done through stipulating that at least one arbitrator in any case be a woman, or through a more general provision such as that “Parties shall take active steps to increase the gender balance amongst arbitrators.”

New Zealand has prioritised trade promotion and has a strong presence among export promotion agencies globally. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), New Zealand’s trade promotion agency, supports exporters with a wide range of services in New Zealand and in all major export markets. It has recently broadened its scope to support 1400 firms with a range of services, up from 700 previously. Sixteen per cent of the contact points for firms are women;36 this is a similar share as previously when fewer firms were engaged. In order to enhance New Zealand’s substantial support to its exporters and increase participation of women in the activities of NZTE, the following suggestions could be considered.

  • NZTE could further reach out to women’s professional networks and networks of small business owners and leaders to ensure the offer of services is known, and procedures for accessing export promotion assistance are understood. NZTE could increase its knowledge base of engagement with women entrepreneurs by collecting information on the number of women contacts or women-led firms that make contact with the agency, the share that become customers and the level of services offered to them.

  • Gender-specific targets could be considered for inclusion of women-owned and women-led businesses in the 1400 Focus firms. Such targets could be progressively augmented. Targets could also be set for other less-represented groups. Beyond targets, encouraging an intentional approach toward women entrepreneurs and exporters may be required. NZTE customer managers have a certain amount of discretion in supporting clients and could be sensitised to the fact that potential women clients that may have less access to information regarding NZTE services due to their shallower networks and may therefore be less precise and demanding in their requests for services. When ‘pitching’ a firm to an independent panel that decides whether firms become ‘Focus’ firms with access to more NZTE services and resources, characteristics such as the gender of the manager could be omitted. Alternatively, a different set of criteria for inclusion in Focus firms could be considered for women as for other target groups.

  • New Zealand should be commended for prioritising export promotion37 and for including in its export promotion priorities support for women entrepreneurs, illustrated not least of all by the recent nomination of a specialised Women in Export Lead in NZTE. This prioritisation should facilitate the development of the NZTE network of women exporters, and work toward ensuring the support they receive is tailored to their needs. Consideration could be given to making the Women in Export Lead a permanent position to ensure support builds over time.

  • Ensure the new and fast-growing sectors of export activity such as digital services,38 creative industries and services more generally ‒ where women are highly represented ‒ are well represented among NZTE Focus firms39 and well supported among NZTE experts. Consider expanding the sector-specific events organised by NZTE in these sectors.

  • Ensure that NZTE services in new markets, and markets that may be less welcoming to women entrepreneurs, such as the Middle East and parts of Asia, are intentional in their support of women entrepreneurs and business leaders. NZTE could also develop a programme to connect New Zealand women exporting to the Middle East, for example, with women business leaders present in the overseas market (such as a KEA network).

  • Ensure that women are represented in New Zealand’s trade missions and conferences. A first step would be to develop a more deliberate approach to the membership of trade missions, including developing a strategy to better represent women and other under-represented groups. Such an approach should require collection of gender-differentiated information on participation in trade delegations. Representation on trade missions often targets CEOs but women are often better represented at the “CEO minus 1” or other levels of leadership. Promoting a move toward greater gender balance in trade missions would also serve to present a more diverse reflection of New Zealand businesses. Ensuring that women are represented in trade conferences, many of which receive government agency support, also gives women exporters more visibility and valuable experience.

  • Collecting gender-differentiated data on NZTE investment initiatives, in order to track the amount of investment going to women-led firms is also important. Where investment in women-led firms is lacking, a closer examination of the ecosystem of women-led firms could be undertaken, to better understand how to match entrepreneurs and investor, and pitch firms.

A well-documented challenge for women entrepreneurs and women business leaders is that they have shallower business networks (Korinek, Moïsé and Tange, 2021[1]).40 Women report that they get less from traditional, male-dominated professional and business networks (International Trade Centre, 2019[2]). This means they have less access to information, fewer contacts and less mentoring and support than men. Many women’s professional networks exist in New Zealand but it is not immediately clear which add value and whom they target. A mapping of professional networking organisations and their objectives and characteristics could be undertaken to increase understanding of the landscape of these organisations. Such a mapping could also inform further engagement with relevant organisations in the context of consultations on trade reforms or trade agreements.

Some women’s professional organisations seem rather segmented, e.g. including only women business leaders of large firms; some exclude potential members through high annual fees or invitation-only requirements. Although these organisations may justifiably target a specific population of women business leaders, they could be encouraged to institute mentoring programmes for younger or early-stage entrepreneurs, or include a small number of ‘scholarship’ members for whom fees are lowered or waived. Since women business leaders in top positions have particularly high demands on their time, a one-to-many mentoring system could be suggested in some cases.

NZTE has started developing a network of women exporters that are contact points in NZTE client firms. This network could be expanded, providing training in areas where women entrepreneurs feel they need support;41 organising information sessions on procedures necessary for different aspects of importing and exporting; engaging with officials on the content and implications of specific trade agreements; and showcasing successful women entrepreneurs and their journey to export.42 One area where women could be better supported is with financial and credit advice; it was seen above that women seek financial advice less often than men. Networking events among women entrepreneurs could also be envisaged by NZTE, around sector-specific exporting, or new exporters, or specific export markets.43

This Review has pointed to a number of data gaps. Services and digital trade data was not available to combine with firm-level data to give a complete picture of women-owned and women-led businesses in the services sectors, where women are concentrated. While firm-level data on gender and other distributional characteristics is available in the LBD/IDI, it could be made more widely accessible via official published statistics.

There is a lack of recent data on unpaid labour within the household: the latest time-use survey was conducted in 2009-10. A new time-use survey is needed to better understand the time spent in unpaid labour that holds women back from contributing in the workplace, driving their businesses and networking.

Consumption data by household composition, including by gender, would give a clearer picture of the impact of trade on prices for women consumers. Better understanding consumption patterns of women-led single parent households or older women would shed further light on the impacts of trade on more vulnerable households.

A number of areas where gender-differentiated data could be collected have been outlined above, such as the participation of women in trade delegations, firm-level gender pay gaps and the extent to which women entrepreneurs are engaged in trade facilitating programmes. Other areas exist, such as gender-differentiated credit scores, and comprehensive data on requests for credit and share of loans allocated.

This Review has pointed to a number of areas where data had not previously been exploited to shed light on women in trade and the barriers they face. Applying a gender lens to new or updated data sources, and exploring how to combine data in innovative ways should be continued, in order to inform further on trade’s impacts on women. There could be benefit in establishing a cross-agency data group to progressively address data issues.

Although New Zealand ranks fourth globally on gender equality ‒ outranked only by Iceland, Finland and Norway ‒ it ranks somewhat lower (66th globally) in gender income disparity (WEF, 2020). This may be due to many women working part-time in order to perform unpaid tasks, to the gender wage gap, and to the difficulty of women in all countries including New Zealand to access the highest levels of business and public service. These areas could be prioritised in order to ensure the New Zealand women can fully participate in the labour market and in trade.

Policies that move some of women’s unpaid labour into the paid labour market will support working women. This is especially true for household chores, tasks that individuals often choose to engage in less compared with, for example, caring for children. Some New Zealand entrepreneurs have suggested allowing childcare to be considered a business expense, or reinstating a previous rebate for childcare costs. Other countries’ responses to transferring unpaid work into the paid workforce have been varied. In France, for example, the chèque emploi service allows families and individuals to partially deduct household and childcare expenses from their federal income taxes. Research has shown that one of the main determinants of women’s participation in the labour force is accessible and affordable childcare (OECD, 2017[5]).

Although gender wage gaps in New Zealand are substantially lower (9%) than the OECD average (13%), steps could be taken to close them further. Many OECD countries have instituted some form of pay transparency or related measures.44 Some countries have instituted reforms aimed at greater pay transparency; in France, for example, medium-sized and large firms, as well as the public sector, must disclose salaries and employment by gender. In Switzerland, firms are obliged to comply with gender pay gap reporting requirements and must be certified that they are making sufficient progress toward parity in order to be eligible for government procurement contracts.

Ensuring women access the highest level of firm governance is a challenge in every country. Some of the higher performing countries such as Iceland and France have implemented quotas, generally of around 40%, for women’s participation on boards. Some stock exchanges, including the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX), have insisted on greater disclosure of the gender composition of top management and board members. The Nasdaq, for example, has required disclosure of the gender composition of the management of its listed firms. The NZX requires listed companies to report on the gender breakdown of the directors and officers for each financial year.

Government procurement targets can be a powerful tool45 to encourage economic activity by more vulnerable groups,46 including within the trade policy toolbox. New Zealand could begin by collecting information on the share of government procurement contracts (at the national level, or also including local governments) that are filled by women-owned or women-led businesses, as has been started for Māori businesses.


[6] BERL (2022), New Zealand Women in Export Trade: Understanding the barriers, Schulze, H.; Yadav, U.; Riley, H.; Dixon, H. (Draft mimeo).

[11] FAO (2011), The State of Food and Agriculture, Women in Agriculture ‒ Closing the gender gap for development, http://www.fao.org/3/i2050e.pdf.

[2] International Trade Centre (2019), From Europe to the World: Understanding Challenges for European Businesswomen, Sept. 30, https://www.intracen.org/uploadedFiles/intracenorg/Content/Publications/From%20Europe%20to%20World%20Women%20EU_final_web.pdf,.

[1] Korinek, J., E. Moïsé and J. Tange (2021), “Trade and gender: A Framework of analysis”, OECD Trade Policy Papers, No. 246, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/6db59d80-en.

[8] López González, J. and S. Sorescu (2021), “Trade in the time of parcels”, OECD Trade Policy Papers, No. 249, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/0faac348-en.

[3] MFAT (2021), New Zealand International Development Cooperation 2020-21, https://www.mfat.govt.nz/assets/Aid-Prog-docs/Policy/New-Zealands-International-Development-Cooperation-2020-21.pdf.

[4] Nemoto, T. and J. López González (2021), “Digital trade inventory: Rules, standards and principles”, OECD Trade Policy Papers, No. 251, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9a9821e0-en.

[7] NZTE (2020), Annual Report 2019/20, https://www.nzte.govt.nz/page/government-publications-media.

[9] OECD (2021), Pay Transparency Tools to Close the Gender Wage Gap, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/eba5b91d-en.

[10] OECD (2019), Trade Policy Brief: Engaging and consulting on trade agreements, https://issuu.com/oecd.publishing/docs/engaging_and_consulting_on_trade_agreements.

[5] OECD (2017), Dare to Share: Germany’s Experience Promoting Equal Partnership in Families, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264259157-en.

[12] Rimmer, S. (2017), Gender-smart Procurement: Policies for Driving Change, https://www.chathamhouse.org/2017/12/gender-smart-procurement-policies-driving-change.


← 1. “We call upon the OECD to model best practices in gender mainstreaming throughout its work, including through disaggregated data collection and analysis” (OECD 2021 Ministerial Council Statement, https://www.oecd.org/mcm/MCM-2021-Part-2-Final-Statement.EN.pdf, 5-6 October).

← 2. The first of four objectives of the Joint Declaration is to: “Continue to review, develop and improve national and/or regional collection of gender-disaggregated data that is comparable to the extent possible and analysis on trade and gender, to provide the basis for informed gender-responsive policies” (WTO/MIN(21)/4/Rev.1).

← 3. These could be based on existing methodologies, e.g. Government of Canada (2020), UNCTAD (2017).

← 4. Consistent with New Zealand’s development cooperation, e.g. (MFAT, 2021[3]).

← 5. For example, the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Chapters of recent FTAs include a provision that allows the Parties to develop implementing arrangements setting out new areas of cooperation with a view to removing regulatory barriers to the movement of goods, and facilitating trade, between the Parties or details for the implementing of the chapter. Such mechanisms allow the chapter to stay relevant and fit-for-purpose in addressing current and future TBT issues and opportunities.

← 6. See e.g. NZ-China Free Trade Agreement National Interest Analysis; Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on Labour Cooperation between the Government of New Zealand and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, Article 3.

← 7. See, for example, NZ-China; NZ-Philippines Labour MoA; CPTPP.

← 8. As reflected in, for example, their ranking in the WEF Global Gender Gap Report; composite indicators of the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law dataset; or information included in SheTrades Outlook.

← 9. Of New Zealand’s trade agreements with labour provisions or side-agreements, CPTPP comes closest to naming this possibility under its cooperation provisions in the Labour Chapter; other agreements leave room for this type of activity.

← 10. Extensive areas of cooperation can be found in GTAGA and in the Canada-Israel bilateral trade agreement.

← 11. Possible wording: “The Parties recognize gender equality as an important public policy objective. The Parties seek to ensure that the implementation of this agreement provides equal opportunities for women and men to participate in trade, and that its implementation does not inadvertently undermine national gender equality and women’s rights commitments” (adapted from ITC (2020) and ITC (2021)).

← 12. In line with emerging legislative practice in countries such as Austria, Iceland, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, who have pay transparency laws.

← 13. See, for example, CPTPP Investment Chapter Article 9.17: Corporate Social Responsibility; USCMA Investment Chapter Article 14.17: Corporate Social Responsibility.

← 14. Several of New Zealand’s trade agreements specify that it is inappropriate to lower the levels of protection afforded by domestic environmental, labour or human rights laws in order to encourage trade and investment.

← 15. This wording is common in other countries’ trade and investment agreements. See, for example, Canada’s PTAs with Peru 2009 and Colombia 2011.

← 16. This would also respond to concerns expressed by New Zealanders in the Trade for All process, that conflicts between trade rules and other international agreements are addressed within a trade law framework leading to favouring trade rules where there is conflict between trade and other rules. See Trade for All Report (2019).

← 17. AANZFTA Final Provisions: Article 2 Relation to Other Agreements.

← 18. WTO (2021) Reference Paper on Services Domestic Regulation, Note by the Chairperson, INF/SDR/1, 27 September 2021.

← 19. Article 13.6 of Canada-Israel provides a dispute settlement mechanism for gender provisions with binding but not compulsory jurisdiction.

← 20. Sixty-seven countries, including New Zealand, endorsed the Joint Initiative at the conclusion of the negotiations on 2 December 2021.

← 21. This challenge is not specific to New Zealand: “SMEs can be less aware of the opportunities under trade agreements, or much less able to take advantage of them” (OECD, 2019[10]).

← 22. According to the OECD-World Bank-Facebook survey. See section on women entrepreneurs and business leaders.

← 23. Many women business leaders “did not have a complete understanding of what FTAs were or how they could play a role in their decision making” according to a study of women entrepreneurs in New Zealand (BERL, 2022[6]).

← 24. Discussions with women entrepreneurs, particularly those engaged in new and growing sectors, have elucidated difficulties they have experienced in hiring foreign professionals. This is particularly acute in the digital technology sectors. Some firms have offshored their development operations because they cannot obtain visas for potential hires. In this case, both jobs and the income tax of the job holders are relinquished from New Zealand.

← 25. See https://www.education.govt.nz/our-work/overall-strategies-and-policies/wellbeing-in-education/access-to-free-period-products/

← 26. Aid for Trade at a Glance, https://public.tableau.com/views/Aid_for_trade/Aid_for_trade?:embed=y&:showTabs=y&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no#1, accessed 13 December 2021.

← 27. See https://www.mfat.govt.nz/assets/Peace-Rights-and-Security/International-security/Gender-Action-Plan-2021-2025.pdf

← 28. While woman make up on the average close to half of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, 5% of all agricultural extension services are directed towards women and 15% of the world's extension agents are woman (FAO, 2011[11]). Moreover, the Green Box (i.e. Annex 2 of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture) allows for unlimited support through measures that can target women such as training, research, extension and advisory services.

← 29. An assessment is ongoing on enhancing interoperability with the ASEAN Single Window, which can provide important guidance for further facilitating trade between New Zealand and ASEAN member economies.

← 30. More information could also be made available to guide small businesses ‒ including those that are women-led – on how to best make use of the advance rulings system when importing specific inputs. In the context of trade agreements, information on using advance rulings systems across different trading partners can also help businesses reduce fixed costs of accessing new markets.

← 31. De minimis concerns thresholds below which either import duties and/or VAT do not apply or for which customs procedures, including data requirements, are simplified (López González and Sorescu, 2021[8]).

← 32. Advance rulings can reduce disputes at the actual moment of release or clearance with the Customs authority on tariff headings, valuation and origin (i.e. eligibility to preferential treatment) and consequently delays are avoided.

← 33. The NCTF is located within the Trade Policy and Negotiations Division (TPND) of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). It draws in officials from other parts of MFAT, including the Pacific and Development Group, and the New Zealand Customs Service, Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise as required.

← 34. Specific contact points at selected border posts could be considered.

← 35. For example, as of early 2022, New Zealand’s Permanent Representative and Deputy Permanent Representative to the WTO and the OECD are all women, as are several Chief Negotiators and the Special Agricultural Trade Envoy.

← 36. This is an unofficial estimate. NZTE could monitor the participation of women-led and women-owned businesses among its customer base. A definition of women-owned and women-led businesses agreed by multiple international organisations and standards bodies can be found here: https://www.sis.se/en/about_sis/isoiwa-34-definition-of-a-womanowned-business-and-guidance-on-its-use/.

← 37. NZTE has a budget of NZD 250 million (about EUR 150 million) and 750 staff, 68% of which are customer-facing (NZTE (2020[7]) and https://www.nzte.govt.nz/page/about-nzte).

← 38. Interviews of New Zealand women business leaders conducted by BERL confirmed their interest in having “a bigger and more specialised team” in the “emerging and valuable” technology sector (BERL, 2022[6]).

← 39. In 2019-20, the last year for which data are publicly available, NZTE Focus firms included 25% of tech firms and 10% of other services firms and. The remaining 65% were in manufacturing and food and beverage sectors.

← 40. In a set of interview with New Zealand business leaders, many indicated that they “did not have any common networks with exporters in their industry. However, majority of them pointed out that they would like to have the opportunity to build connections and share knowledge and other resources with like-minded local business owners.” However, the small number of women that did develop such networks with other exporters in their industries “shared knowledge about markets and experiences with one another. In some cases they also shared shipping containers to save costs” (BERL, 2022[6]).

← 41. Women entrepreneurs indicate more frequently than men that they consider they have inadequate skills to run their businesses (Korinek, Moïsé and Tange, 2021[1]). Although women who run a business have higher levels of educational attainments than men, they tend to have less experience in self-employment and continue to have fewer opportunities than men in management positions, which acts as a barrier to gaining management experience and skills that are useful for entrepreneurship (OECD, 2019a). Skills that women entrepreneurs indicate they lack in New Zealand include business strategy, cash flow management, and scaling a business and a team.

← 42. Showcasing successful women entrepreneurs is an important step toward changing mindsets regarding what an exporter looks like. On the NZTE website, for example, a set of 14 inspiring videos present New Zealand exporters, their passions and their export journeys. Two are women-led and one is led by both a woman and a man (equalling a gender balance of 80% men and 20% women).

← 43. A similar recommendation emerged from a set of interviews of women business leaders in a separate qualitative process (BERL, 2022[6]).

← 44. Eighteen of the 38 OECD countries mandate systematic, regular gender wage gap reporting by private sector firms. Within this group, nine implemented comprehensive equal pay auditing processes, which require additional gender data analysis and typically propose follow-up strategies to address inequalities. Just under half of OECD countries use job classification systems, which attempt to standardise pay and make it transparent by gender and within specific job categories (OECD, 2021[9]).

← 45. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, spending on government procurement in New Zealand represented about 20% of its GDP.

← 46. The United States, for example, has a procurement target of 5% of the value of federal contracts going to women-led businesses; Canada targets indigenous communities in its outreach and prioritisation of procurement. Switzerland awards government procurement contracts only to firms that have certified gender wage transparency. The United States target was met for the first time in 2015 in part due to a number of awareness raising and capacity building activities focused on certified women-owned firms (Rimmer, 2017[12]). The Swiss gender wage transparency certification process requires firms with more than 100 employees to undergo an audit of their wages by gender, and includes random checks of other firms, as a pre-requisite to applying to federal procurement opportunities (OECD, 2021[9]).

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