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Catherine Beard reviews the latest ExportNZ DHL Export Barometer and finds it both surprising and encouraging.

To be the voice of Kiwi exporters it’s vital we keep up to date with an accurate picture of what they’re experiencing. This is why the annual ExportNZ DHL Export Barometer is so important. It gives a true gauge of how the country’s exporters are doing, what their biggest issues are, where they need help and what their future expectations are.  

The 2017 Barometer shows some surprising and encouraging results, especially given the global political changes that happened last year.

Overall Kiwi exporters are feeling confident and expecting orders to increase in the next 12 months. Optimism is very positive with 71% of New Zealand exporters expecting international orders to increase – a jump from 63% in 2016.

The research shows that overall 2017 was a good year, with just over half of exporters achieving an increase in international orders.

While the survey was carried out prior to the general election, ongoing political support for the export environment will be crucial to ensure Kiwi businesses achieve the perceived upcoming boost to orders.

Exporters responding to the survey cited several key ways in which assistance from the government could help their business. Research and development assistance came out top at 26 percent, closely followed by help attending trade shows with other New Zealand companies, and more free trade agreements.

The good result on TPP should help to lock in optimism amongst Kiwi exporters, especially coming after so much global political uncertainty.

The TPP emerged from Da Nang with a new name: the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. However it’s not just a new name, but a new Agreement, and it will need to be ratified afresh. 

New trade minister David Parker, PM Jacinda Ardern and the MFAT negotiating team did well in Da Nang and New Zealand’s reputation has emerged enhanced.  

Before the meeting there were some who worried that the positions taken by the new government might de-stabilise the overall negotiation. This was not the case. Parker and his team were there to find workable solutions and they did.

There will now be strong pressure to wrap up the four outstanding issues and get the Agreement signed early this year.

Slow to embrace online

Other key findings from the Barometer show that while some exporters have embraced online commerce, not much has changed in the past two years. There is still plenty of room for growth as 26% said that none of their export orders are generated online. 

While Australia remains by far our number one trading partner (72%), we are shifting towards the ever-growing China (30%) and away from our traditional chief trading partner, the UK (26%), post-Brexit. 

However, overall, Kiwi exporters don’t expect any major changes to our top ten trading partners in the coming years. 

Trading with the US has increased significantly over the past year, with more than half of Kiwi exporters sending orders there and over half (55%) seeing the Trump administration as having a neutral impact on exports, while 41% thought it had a negative impact on exports.

The fact that R&D has been flagged up as a key area for assistance is significant as more than half (52 percent) of exporters developed new products and services in a bid to boost export orders. Innovation can be a powerful tool for overcoming the ‘strength of competition in overseas markets’, which is the number one concern among exporters.

The full 2017 ExportNZ DHL Barometer report is at Catherine Beard (pictured) is executive director of ExportNZ, which assists exporters throughout New Zealand. 


Key facts:

• 71% of exporters expect international orders to increase over the next 12 months.

• Over half (55%) have seen international orders increase over the past 12 months.

• Trade with the US has increased, despite Trump.

• Strength of competition is the biggest concern for exporters.

• Help with R&D considered a key way the government could assist.

• Online orders and marketing still have a long way to go. 

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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