New Zealand businesses face major uncertainty after Brexit plan defeat

The New Zealand Government is warning exporters to prepare themselves for a rough ride after UK lawmakers rejected UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal on Wednesday.

The defeat of Ms May's plan, which was voted down 432 votes to 202, is fuelling uncertainty for Kiwi businesses - including wine company Villa Maria, which is doing all it can to avoid disaster as its largest export market enters into confusing times.

"For us it has definitely [made things more uncertain], it's more or less thrown up a lot more complexity," said David Roper, a Villa Maria winemaker.

As it becomes harder to predict the future of the UK market, and the rules it will play by, the company is preparing for the worst-case scenario - a no deal Brexit.

That could mean backlogs at British ports and customs.

"We've been bottling recently 24/7 I guess, to have a lot more stock on hand."

But it won't only be Villa Maria concerned, with Britain being New Zealand's fifth largest trading partner. Last year, Brits spent almost $1 billion in Aotearoa, and we export $1.6 billion-worth of goods like wine, meat and fruit there.

That's why the Government is warning Kiwi companies to prepare for "any" outcome.

"It's unfortunate this situation has occurred to create that uncertainty, but the best we can do is what we can control, which is our own preparation," said Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

New Zealand is also continuing to seek a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK, which could happen sooner rather than later after today's vote.

"It potentially brings forward the prospect of a future FTA between Britain and New Zealand but under circumstances that are not clear," said trade expert Stephen Jacobi.

But if a Brexit deal is struck, it would be at least two years before New Zealand could strike a trade deal.

Villa Maria says it's still hoping the Brits will be their biggest market for years to come.

"It is a significant market for us, so any major changes impact the whole New Zealand wine industry," said Mr Roper.