Trump policies could bring NZ manufacturers home

By Dene Mackenzie

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare could be affected by Trump policies. Photo / Greg Bowker
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare could be affected by Trump policies. Photo / Greg Bowker

United States President-elect Donald Trump's financial and trade policies could unintentionally affect Kiwi exporters, says Craigs Investment Partners broker Peter McIntyre.

New Zealand firms that manufacture in low-income economies such as Mexico could be forced to move some of their operations home.

Almost all Federal Reserve policymakers believed the United States economy would grow faster under the Trump Administration because of fiscal stimulus, McIntyre said.

Many were looking at faster interest rate rises. Fed minutes released last week, showed how broadly views within it were shifting in response to Trump's promises of tax cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation.

McIntyre said trade barriers were also a part of Trump's election platform of "making America great again".

Trump has targeted Toyota Motor Corp, threatening to impose a hefty fee on the world's largest vehicle maker if it built its Corolla cars for the US market at a plant in Mexico.

"Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for US NO WAY! Build plant in US or pay big border tax," he tweeted.

It was Trump's latest broadside against carmakers building vehicles in Mexico and his first against a foreign maker. The President-elect's attacks on investments by companies in Mexico have cast a shadow over cross-border production networks central to more than US$583 billion ($831b) a year in trade between the two countries.

McIntyre said Fonterra was not at risk from Trump's trade policies but Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, which made products in Mexico, was.

"If that's the case, F&P Healthcare will use its New Zealand base to export into the US. It will then be selling goods from New Zealand, which is very positive. It may also encourage others who manufacture offshore to come back to home base."

The overall effects on exports would not show immediately. Three years was a likely timetable to gauge how Trump's policies were working.

McIntyre said the prospect of two interest rate cuts in the US would help lift the value of the US currency and, theoretically, lower the value of the New Zealand dollar.

That would help companies such as Dunedin's Scott Technology, which would use the weaker kiwi to its advantage in overseas markets.

Air New Zealand, which needed to hedge currency, particularly around fuel purchases, would feel the effects of a lower kiwi through higher costs, McIntyre said.

But tourist numbers should grow because the US dollar would buy more in NZ if the kiwi was low.

Global currencies were trading against the trend yesterday. The US dollar fell to a three-week low after inflation and unemployment data failed to reverse a downward trend.

Investors shook off promising data on the US economy, including jobless claims falling to a 43-year low last week, McIntyre said.

Once US interest rates and inflation started to rise, the US currency would also increase in value. "The world needs some inflation to stop the downward spiral of deflation we have had for the last five or so years."

The European Central Bank was still pouring money into the euro zone in an effort to stimulate the economy, and the region still had negative interest rates.

Interest rates were not as in negative territory as they had been because of the US rates rising.

After Brexit, it was likely one or more other countries would leave the European Union within the following 12 to 18 months, McIntyre said.

- Otago Daily Times

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