Kiwi exporters are largely optimistic despite tensions around international trade, according to a new survey.

The 2018 ExportNZ DHL Export Barometer showed more than half of the respondents (52 per cent) have experienced increased international orders, while 60 per cent were optimistic that overseas orders would increase in the next year.

But exporters should be prepared for any challenges ahead, particularly in the face of international uncertainty, says ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard.

"The sentiments of Kiwi exporters are upbeat in the face of considerable international uncertainty," she said.

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ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard.
ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard.

"However, despite the confidence to manage the uncertainty well, there remain strong concerns with staying competitive in the face of increasing industrial relations costs, which small- to medium-sized firms will take into consideration when they make decisions regarding export."

In the face of these concerns, exporters are looking to the Government for more support.

More than 50 per cent of respondents said they wanted more help from the Government to attend international trade shows with other New Zealand companies, as well as help finding trusted partners in overseas markets.

The survey indicated exporters are showing apprehension around the escalating international trade war and the strength of competition in overseas markets.

Australia remained a top destination for Kiwi exporters with 74 per cent of goods heading across the Ditch. North America (41 per cent), Europe (38 per cent) and the Pacific Islands (36 per cent) were also strong export destinations.

For the first time Britain made its way into the top five, edging out China by a margin of 3 per cent.

DHL Express New Zealand country manager Mark Foy said the global logistics company had invested in a larger freight plane for transtasman trade in response to growing export demand from our neighbours.

"The focus of exporters on the Australian market is reflected in an increase in demand for DHL Express services between Australia and New Zealand," Foy said.

More than 400 New Zealand exporters across manufacturing, online retail, agriculture, forestry and transport were surveyed.