New Zealand exporters are worried by the prospect of trade protectionism and isolationism that a Donald Trump presidency could entail, industry insiders say.

Exporters are anxiously waiting to see whether Trump's rhetoric during the election campaign translates into policy, or whether his stance softens now that he has the top job.

Prime Minister John Key this morning all but confirmed that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) would be a casualty of Trump's victory, being one of the new president's main policy platforms.

Markets are not sure whether Trump will remain committed to his other more extreme trade policies, including his pledge to leave the World Trade Organistaion, withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and impose significant tariffs on Chinese goods.


New Zealand Institute of Economic Research deputy chief executive John Ballingall said all signs pointed to a trading environment that was less encouraging for Kiwi exporters.

"Certainly the ones I've spoken to are concerned about it, coming off the back of Brexit as well," he said. "Both of these decisions do point to a period of instability in global markets and to a global economy where trade liberalization certainly won't be top of the agenda, at least for any agreements involving the US."

However, he said New Zealand's exporters were very pragmatic and had prepared as best they could for this eventuality.

"I think the key message for businesses is just to hold on tight for the short term and ride it through. But after that it's really the longer term of what Trump's trade policy will mean for New Zealand's exporters that's the main concern."

Our agricultural industries would likely be those most affected by Trump's trade policies.

With US economic growth likely to slow and Americans earning less, New Zealand's tourism sector could also be hit.

ManufacturingNZ and ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard said the best case scenario for New Zealand exporters would be that Trump's anti-trade views mellowed and the pro-trade factions of the Republican Party prevailed.

"The markets help keep governments honest and I'm sure there will be a lot of policy advice given to the incoming president to take sensible approaches to things, so let's hope that common sense prevails"

The worst case scenario would be the advent of an international trade war, she said.

"That's if they put up big barriers, China retaliates and everybody starts to become protectionist around the world. And we know from history that's not good for economies."

Business consultant Stephen Jacobi, who was a major proponent of the TPP, said he was "very disappointed" that the agreement now seemed destined to fail.

"That said I think the issues behind TPP - better market access, better rules for trade and investment, the need to incentivize supply chains to boost global growth - all of those things are still going to have to be addressed in some way by the new president, we just don't know how yet," he said.

"Make no mistake, [Trump] has the power to do a lot of the things he wants to do if he's minded to. He could raise tariffs on Chinese goods, he could rip up NAFTA, he could depart from the WTO. All of these things are very uncertain and complicated for New Zealand."