New Zealand exporters are facing growing obstacles to getting products overseas with more than half failing to get shipping space and there are growing worries about being left behind as the world opens up.
The ExportNZ DHL Export Barometer shows that the biggest barriers are driven by the continued impact of Covid-19.
The more common barriers are the cost and availability of transport and logistics experienced by 78 per cent of those surveyed (up from 66 per cent last year) and inability to travel because of the pandemic with resulting closed borders and MIQ restrictions cited by 52 per cent.
More than 300 exporters were surveyed are adapting to the difficulties with 51 per cent saw an increase in export orders (up from 36 per cent last year and 49 per cent pre-pandemic in 2019). However, 32 per cent reported a fall in orders, down slightly on last year but twice the number which suffered a decrease in 2019.
The impact of global freight congestion is having on Kiwi businesses is staggering.
Just on 88 per cent of exporters experienced an increase in logistics costs, 86 per cent experienced delayed transport and 57 per cent were unable to even get shipping space.
The survey taken in August and September found 44 per cent of Kiwi exporters want to see government help in a border system that prioritises exporters for vaccinations and safe travel, with no MIQ being necessary.
The exporters have stressed that the closed borders are heavily impacting their business; forcing them to make staff cuts, shut down or relocate offshore until the border closure rules offer a solution.
''Businesses are increasingly concerned that while the rest of the world is getting back to business, New Zealand exporters risk losing business to competitors and/or gaining a reputation of being unreliable, expensive and potentially slow to deliver,'' said Catherine Beard, executive director of ExportNZ.
With the congestion at ports, lack of belly space on aircraft due to the reduced passenger flights by commercial airlines and a border system that has been dubbed "broken", the ability for New Zealand businesses to operate is heavily impacted and Kiwi exporters are desperate for government help.
Around a third of respondents said the high cost of doing business in NZ and the cost of labour were also barriers for them.
In spite of this NZ exporters are still mostly optimistic; 62 per cent expect international orders to increase, indicating a strong year ahead in 2022
Selina Deadman, vice president, commercial, DHL Express New Zealand, said while this year's survey highlighted another tough year for our Kiwi exporters, it was pleasing to see that the majority had experienced an increase in their international export orders.
This had been reflected in the strong export shipment growth that we have seen through DHL's 's network.
''The pandemic has once again put the spotlight on Kiwi exporters investing in innovation, new product development and sustainable initiatives to reach international audiences. With our fleet of owned aircraft, DHL is committed and will continue to play a key role in delivering these great Kiwi products to the world," she said.
One of the biggest challenges Kiwi exporters will be facing from now and into the future is how they manage the supply chain disruption and how they transform their traditional supply chain models.
Exporters have future proofed business processes with 66 per cent of Kiwi exporters changing the way they work due to Covid-19
Shifting to digital meant 44 per cent of exporters implemented online initiatives such as Zoom calls, delivering online sales and automation.
"We expect the boom in e-commerce to continue to grow and adapt with the market, as more and more of our customers tap into online sales and benefits for their business. DHL continues to be prepared to support this exponential growth," Deadman said.
The survey was taken before the announcement of the New Zealand-Britain trade agreement.
The key industry segments in the survey are: Manufacturing (42 per cent), Agriculture, Forestry or Fishing (15 per cent), online retail (12 per cent), ICT services, commercial services, consulting (5 per cent) and professional scientific and technical equipment (4 per cent).