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The 2017 ExportNZ DHL Export Barometer, released yesterday, showed 55% of exporters had experienced an increase in international orders in the past year.
Trade with the United States had increased, despite the election of US President Donald Trump. Mr Trump has taken the US out of the Trans Pacific Partnership and is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).
The survey was carried out before the New Zealand election on September 23. A total of 379 New Zealand exporters were interviewed for the 2017 barometer.
ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard said ongoing political support for the export environment would be crucial to ensure Kiwi businesses achieved 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 was top on 26%, closely followed by help attending trade shows with other New Zealand companies and more free trade agreements, both on 25%.
Otago-Southland Employers Association chief executive Virginia Nicholls said there was optimism from regional exporters.
They supported the Government mission of converting research and development ideas into commercial opportunities, although it would be helpful to have more opportunities to help individual exporters with their specific research and development needs outside the prescribed programme, she said.
``Free trade agreements are important and they help to keep exporters competitive. We are a small country and it is not easy getting free trade agreements.''
New Zealand only had eight trade agreements covering 16 countries, Mrs Nicholls said.
Exporters found it hard to compete in markets where New Zealand did not have a trade agreement. That was why it was so important to continue to pursue the CPTPP.
``Being part of a multilateral high-quality free trade agreement is important to us.''
Ms Beard said the flagging of R&D as an area for assistance was significant as more than half of exporters developed new products and services in a bid to boost export orders.
Innovation could be a powerful tool for overcoming the strength of competition of overseas markets, which was the top concern among exporters.
Online commerce held steady. The 2017 barometer showed while some exporters had embraced online commerce, not much had changed in the past two years.
Only 20% of exporters generated more than half their international orders online, including 6% which generated all export orders that way.
There was still room for growth as 26% said none of their export orders were generated online.