Talk of a border tax in the United States is creating significant uncertainty for New Zealand beef and wine exporters, which count the US as their biggest market by some distance.
The United States is New Zealand's third biggest export destination after China and Australia, taking in $5.3 billion worth in 2016.
Meat exports dwarf all the other New Zealand export products to the US, with beef alone accounting for $1.2b last year.
In sheep meat, the US is the third biggest market with annual receipts totalling $270 million.
The wine trade also counts the US as its biggest market, worth just under $500m and growing strongly. The second biggest is Britain, which takes just under $400m, has its own issues on the trade front after last year's surprise vote to leave the European Union, dubbed "Brexit".
No definitive leads have been released as to exactly what US trade policy will look like under President Donald Trump, but in a tape of a December conversation between then President-Elect Trump and his nominee for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross - leaked to the news website Gizmodo and published last month - Trump talked about using stringent food safety measures as a tool in trade negotiations. Trump also discussed a 10 per cent tariff on all imports.
Local exporters said the appointment of a US trade representative would be keenly watched for clues as to where policy will go from here.
Robert Lighthizer, a former official in the Reagan administration, an ardent trade protectionist, and Trump's pick for trade representative, is set to appear before the Senate Finance Committee this week.
Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef and Lamb New Zealand, said America's choice of trade representative would be key.
"Once that person is appointed, we will be able to get some sort of tenor on what it all means," he said.
"For us, we are pretty concerned about the negative sentiment coming out of the United States regarding trade..
"We are monitoring things very carefully and are in constant dialogue with our intelligence in the market place, and with the Government as well."
McIvor said there was "deep debate" on the issue within the Republican Party - traditionally a free trade advocate.