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Exporters confident of rising orders


Wednesday 13th July 2011

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Two-thirds of exporters in a new survey are expecting export orders to rise, despite being challenged by the volatility of the New Zealand dollar.

The second national exporter outlook survey by ExportNZ, a division of BusinessNZ, found 17 percent of respondents expect a substantial rise in orders in the next year, while 49 percent expect low gains.

About half expect profits to improve in the year ahead, with another 36 percent thinking they will stay at the same level.

Both the outlook on orders and profits in the latest survey, carried out in early June, are slightly less optimistic than in a survey carried out late last year.

The survey covered 236 respondents, which collectively produced more than $3 billion in exports.

ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard said it was particularly pleasing that 61 percent of respondents were manufacturers, indicating that despite a challenging exchange rate environment, manufacturers were surviving and thriving.

"These results demonstrate that those who are adding value to goods in New Zealand can still be internationally competitive, particularly if they offer products that are innovative and tailored to their customers’ needs," she said.

Manufacturers were finding good sustainable export niches. It was good to see the positivity in the export sector extended beyond traditional commodity exports.

Exchange rate volatility was considered the biggest obstacle to growing exports, followed by competitiveness of products and for some, a lack of offshore demand, Beard said.

Most exporters would like more government help, with overseas market development topping the list, followed by help with research and development.

They would also like some government agencies, including the NZ Food Safety Authority, to be more timely, responsive and predictable. Other improvements sought included faster and better immigration procedures for skilled staff and students, greater efficiency from councils for planning approval, and better border controls between this country and Australia, particularly regarding phyto-sanitary requirements.

Around a third of exporters said developing common product safety standards and energy efficiency standards across the Asia Pacific would be beneficial to exporters by simplifying market access.

"Exporters are telling us that while free trade agreements are important, so is tackling non-tariff behind the border barriers to export," Beard said.

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