There have been talks for a Trans-Tasman bubble since the Coronavirus lockdowns in March. However, different approaches from New Zealand and Australia have made this reality more a far fetched dream.
Although both countries would benefit from the trans-Tasman bubble, New Zealand would arguably benefit greater due to 5.8% of GDP being attributable to Tourism. Over 180,000 individuals are employed due to tourism and make up about 7.5% of the workforce in New Zealand.
However, as much as a trans-Tasman bubble is encouraged, the difference in approaches has made it challenging to implement. With New Zealand digging their heels and imposing one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, while Australia gave their citizens relative freedom, only imposing social distancing guidelines. The contrasting methods have become evident – with Australia still making records in daily Coronavirus cases, while New Zealand consistently records single-digit case numbers. Victoria, Australia, reported 428 new Coronavirus cases on Friday, making it the state's largest daily increase since the pandemic.
This is on the back of the Prime Ministers' Scott Morison and Jacinda ADern opening up travel between the two countries. Scott Morison stated that "she [Jacinda Adern] raised the very issue [the bubble] with me, and we're progressing those discussions." However, he also stated that it is "going to be a little be moderated for what's happening in Victoria," insinuating a possible exclusion for citizens that live in Victoria. Melbourne, a major city in Victoria, recently hit 5000 Coronavirus cases as the city re-enters a second lockdown.
The AUD/NZD depreciated to parity in the middle of March as risk currencies dived – with the NZD showing some strength due to New Zealand's efficient suppression of the Coronavirus. However, the Australia dollar has since rebounded, trading at the 1.067 level. There may be an argument for the Australian dollar is slightly overvalued compared to the New Zealand dollar as New Zealand's economy has been restarting without any relative setbacks. However, as demand for commodities such as oil and iron rises across the world of which Australia is a major exporter, demand for the Australian dollar may increase, strengthening relative to the NZD.
However, the significant indices for Australia and New Zealand may show outperformance, rewarding New Zealand in their Coronavirus suppression. Since their March lows, the NZX 50 has outperformed the Australian 200 Index by 4%. If New Zealand continues to outperform with regards to the Coronavirus relative to Australia, we may see a good opportunity to shorten the ASX and go long the NZX.
If both countries took the same approach, I believe there would have been a trans-Tasman bubble sooner. Australian Tourism Industry Council Executive Director Simon Westway stated that "Australia needs to get back on its feet before Trans-Tasman bubble," and that Australia needs to open its domestic borders between states before opening up to New Zealand. Jacinda Adern took a stab at Australia's Coronavirus response, stating on video that "If Australia wants a whole country trans-Tasman bubble, we'll be waiting."