Kiwi exporters facing uphill battle to get products overseas

It's our biggest earner, worth over $40 billion to our economy, but exporters are struggling to get their products overseas.

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China exports are down 11 per cent, a drop of about $160 million. Source: 1 NEWS

The latest statistics show as the coronavirus crisis started to hit, in the year to March, exports to our two biggest markets, China and Australia, were down 11 and nine per cent respectively. Those drops cost a combined $243 million. 

However, total exports rose two percent - a lift from $5.8 billion from $5.7 billion. Imports were also up three per cent, but again down from both China and Australia.

New Zealand's Minister of Trade David Parker is making clear what exporters should expect in the near future.

"The International Monetary Fund is predicting a 13 to 30 per cent drop in world trade," Mr Parker tells 1 NEWS.

"The prediction for New Zealand is 6.5 and 15 per cent, so you can see we'll be significantly affected."

One of the biggest challenges is a reduction in flight capacity, running at about 15 per cent compared to before the impact of Covid-19. The Government is doing what it can to keep routes open.

"I think that's improving week by week," Mr Parker said. 

"For example we've reached an agreement last week with Singapore, which of course is a hub and air links with China are being increased."

One of the big issues for exporters is that only food producers are counted as essential businesses at Alert Level 4 of the ongoing pandemic.

As a response, ExportNZ has drawn up a list of businesses it says could get back to work as soon as possible, and is asking the Government to consider allowing that.

And as China begins to slowly open itself up for business once again, desperate for Kiwi products, the hope can only be that other countries will soon be in the same position.