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Exporter confidence dips to all-time low, but online offers a ray of hope

In tough times, exporters are going online and reaping the rewards, according to the 2012 DHL Export Barometer.

In tough times, exporters are going online and reaping the rewards, according to the 2012 DHL Export Barometer.

The annual survey of New Zealand exporters found that only half of exporters are confident about an increase in export orders in the next 12 months, significantly down from 70 percent last year, due to fluctuating exchange rates and rising fuel costs.

This result is the lowest in the history of the DHL Export Barometer, which has been running in New Zealand since 2004.

However, more than half have increased the level of online commerce in their business in the past year and 74 percent found this had a positive impact on business.
 
Just over 60 percent of export companies provide product/service information online to generate opportunities, particularly large businesses.

That said, a fifth of of exporters still have no online presence at all.
 
 
“As a growth channel, exporters can do more to increase their sales via online. The online environment provides a cost effective way to break down barriers to access markets. Coupled with the rise of an Asian middle class with an appetite for New Zealand consumer goods, the online environment presents a significant export channel,” said Tim Baxter, country manager, DHL Express New Zealand.
 
As well as being top export destinations, Australia and China are considered the biggest competitive threat to New Zealand exporters, with China seen as highly competitive to those in manufacturing specifically.

 
“The response towards Australia is more curious. Australia produces some similar commodities to New Zealand and is obviously a close neighbour. It may be because there is increased economic uncertainty, that potential competition is being felt more keenly,” said Baxter. 

 

Despite the perceived threat of China as an international competitor, 62 percent of exporters consider the current FTA with China to be positive. The majority expect orders to China to increase in the next 12 months.

 
“There will only be one transition as big as China in our lifetime,” said  Baxter “With 4 billion people and 60 percent of the world’s population, we are seeing a meteoric trade shift. This is borne out in the survey results that Asia, led by China, is where the growth opportunities lie."

Agriculture exporters have been leading other sectors with more than half citing an increase in orders over the last 12 months, with services and manufacturing exporters also following the upward trend. Tourism exporters, on the other hand, aren't as optimistic.

 The  2012 DHL Export Barometer surveyed 324 New Zealand exporters from May 22 - June 4.