International Business

Alfred Hazelman, Customer Service Assistant at Maersk; Bachelor of Commerce (International Business and Marketing)


Globalisation, advancing technology and the accelerating pace of change in the geopolitical and economic arenas are creating an increasingly complex and competitive international trade environment. Success depends on understanding different markets, systems and cultures, developing strong business relationships, and implementing appropriate trade policy.

Working within this environment presents challenges to policy makers and organisations in the public and private sectors. It also provides opportunities for companies and individuals to take our goods and services to the world and grow the New Zealand economy.

In 2018, our exports earned $79.823 billion, mainly from dairy products, meat, logs and wood products, fruit, machinery and equipment, wine, fish and seafood. Our main export partners are China, Australia, European Union, United States and Japan.

Current trends in international business

  • Growing emerging markets: Developing countries are seeing the highest economic growth
  • Population and demographic shifts: The population of the industrialised world is aging while many developing countries still have very youthful populations
  • Speed of innovation: The pace of innovation is increasing, and more businesses in developing countries are acquiring the expertise to innovate successfully
  • More informed buyers: Customers are purchasing products from all around the globe and have increased access to information about what to buy
  • Increased business competition: Companies based in developing markets often have lower labour costs, so the challenge for Western companies is to keep ahead with faster and more effective innovation as well as a high degree of automation
  • Slower economic growth: Western economies are stagnating, and emerging market growth has slowed, so economic growth over the next several years will be slower
  • Emergence of clean technology: Environmental factors are already a major influence in the West and will become more so worldwide
  • Trade tensions between economic superpowers: Tariffs, discussions over intellectual property right violations and other extant trade barriers are compelling New Zealand businesses to revisit their international strategies and formulate novel ways to position themselves

What does the future hold?

The UK’s post-Brexit negotiations, political and social upheaval in the US and the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic are all contributing to a level of political and economic uncertainty unprecedented in modern times.

However, New Zealand’s reputation for being a stable economy with strong values and integrity will be a huge asset for our businesses, says Dr Antje Fiedler, Senior Lecturer at the Business School and Director of the China Studies Centre. “This reputation is reflected in the New Zealand Story, a programme created by government agencies to help grow international markets by telling stories of what makes New Zealand business unique. It is already resonating very well with overseas consumers and, in these times of heightened uncertainty, it may provide an even greater asset for New Zealand businesses in connecting to consumers and building trust.”*

The global coronavirus pandemic is actually predicted to open up more international markets for New Zealand’s products, and also to encourage more of our international partners to invest capital here.

*Source: Business News, April 2020

What skills and attributes can I gain from my International Business major?

  • A global and multicultural perspective on business
  • Relationship building and negotiating skills
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Research design and situation analysis skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Creative thinking
  • The ability to work effectively in multicultural groups
  • Written and oral communication skills (knowledge of another language is an advantage)
  • Presentation skills
  • Organisational ability and motivation

International business career options

International Business prepares you for work in all areas of management within internationally active organisations. Possible roles include:

  • Export-import manager
  • Country or regional manager
  • Global talent manager
  • International accountant
  • International economist
  • Management analyst
  • Corporate, investment or merchant banker
  • Policy analyst or adviser
  • Sales or marketing manager

Where do International Business graduates work?

Many New Zealand businesses are looking to expand into the global market, creating a need for graduates who are well versed in international business. Graduates can explore career opportunities with exporters, importers, global consumer or industrial goods manufacturers, financial service providers, travel and tourism operators, trade promotion agencies and development agencies.

Examples of New Zealand companies who conduct business overseas include Fonterra, Xero, Hamilton Jet, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Weta and Zespri. Examples of Government ministries and agencies include the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE).

International Business graduate profiles

Useful websites for International Business students and graduates

  • NZ Trade and Enterprise (NZTE)
    NZTE is New Zealand's international business development agency. Its purpose is to grow businesses internationally.
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
    MBIE is the government’s lead business-facing agency. Its purpose is to grow the New Zealand economy to provide a better standard of living for all New Zealanders.
  • TradeWorks
    TradeWorks is the website of the New Zealand International Business Forum, which has comprehensive information about trade and investment and why they are important to New Zealand.
  • ExportNZ
    ExportNZ is a division of BusinessNZ. The BusinessNZ family has its roots in four large regional organisations of member businesses that together cover the entire country.
  • Asia New Zealand Foundation
    The Asia New Zealand Foundation is New Zealand's leading non-government authority on Asia.

Other useful resources

Careers New Zealand

The Careers New Zealand website provides useful salary information for a range of business and industry roles, as well as information on the difference a qualification makes to what you are paid, and advice on negotiating your salary. You can also search for salary information by job.

Careers New Zealand

Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook is a great tool for exploring study and career options, with extensive information on labour supply and demand in over 100 occupations in New Zealand. It outlines how to enter each role, how many are studying in related fields, how many are employed, and what the average incomes are. It also outlines the prospects of getting a job in that occupation once you have the necessary qualifications.


Prospects specialises in advice for UK university students and graduates. Much of the information is relevant to New Zealand students.