The Budget will double to 1,400 the number of exporting firms receiving intensive support in offshore markets from New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.

Some $32 million would be applied to the Focus programme to achieve that over the next four years, Finance Minister Grant Robertson, said, with three-quarters of the assisted companies employing 50 or fewer people.

Also in for a boost is the team of offshore business development managers that assists exporters in offshore markets. Some $40 million has been set aside for that purpose, along with a $16 million investment in the country’s brand in export markets at a time when tourist arrivals have dried up while borders stay closed because of covid-19.

“This investment will re-emphasise our reputation for safety, trust, resilience, ingenuity, innovation, sustainability and high-value goods and services,” using the New Zealand Story strategy which has been in place for several years, the finance minister said

R&D support

A new lending scheme will also be introduced to allow firms to borrow up to 50 percent of the cost of their ‘business as usual’ expenditure in research and development, capped at a maximum of $100,000.

Some $150 million is set aside for that and it is expected to be up and running by early June, with details coming in the near future.

Bad ideas

Also set aside is $80 million to make failed innovations eligible for tax deductions.

“While letting businesses write off tax for unsuccessful products might sound counter-intuitive to some people, this is actually an important way of encouraging investment because it gives businesses the confidence to have a go and take the risk,” Revenue Minister Stuart Nash said.

Other measures

Other measures focus on improving e-commerce capability among New Zealand firms, including a $12.5 million boost to the trans-Tasman e-invoicing initiative and increased funding for business assistance programmes for firms needing help to navigate the disrupted economic environment.