Exporters confident about next year

The positive findings of the National Export Outlook Survey were particularly encouraging given that 64% of the 251 respondents were exporters operating in the much-maligned manufacturing sector. Forty-four percent of the sample plan to enter new market regions over the next 12 months, with the GFC triggering search for new markets by third of exporters. “This is positive for New Zealand insofar as it could help spread our future country risk,” Beard says. The regions where exporters have the biggest growth plans are South East Asia, Australia and Europe.

Over half of those surveyed expect their profits to improve next year, with further 32% expecting profit levels to hold steady. About half of the firms plan to maintain existing staff levels, with 38% saying they will employ more people in the next 12 months. Only 13 percent expect to reduce staff. “These results are extremely encouraging since we need our exporters to earn far more if the country is to recover income levels, and retain our standard of living,” says Beard.

The main barriers to export growth indentified by the survey were exchange rate volatility – rather than the level of the $NZ – market conditions and demand offshore, followed by the price competitiveness of New Zealand products and services and lack of funds to further develop export markets.

Exporters say they could do with more information about what government assistance is on offer, although 45% of those surveyed say they don’t need government assistance. Those who do rated New Zealand Trade and Enterprise as ‘could/must do better’. Areas where assistance was required were identified, in order of importance, as export market development, market intelligence, R&D and venture capital.

• For copy of the full survey visit: http://www.ema.co.nz/

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