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Annual trade gap narrows on exports of dairy products

Monday 28th July 2008

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New Zealand's annual trade deficit narrowed in June on soaring shipments of dairy products and less demand for imports in a weakening domestic economy.

The deficit was NZ$4.5 billion in the 12 months ended June 30, Statistics New Zealand said in a report. The annual trade gap shrank from NZ$4.8 billion in May.

Exports of milk powder, butter and cheese rose 58% in June and gained about 36% in the year, to NZ$8.76 billion. Oil exports soared 434%, leaping to the third-biggest shipment by value, reflecting sales from the Tui oilfield. Petroleum products led the gain in imports, rising 22% to NZ$7.08 billion.

Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard last week said high export prices should help with a gradual revival of the economy in 2009 after it contracted in the first quarter. Rising prices for imports of fuel and food will push annual inflation to a peak of about 5% in the September quarter, he said.

In the latest month, exports to Australia rose 50% to NZ$949 million while shipments to the US, the second-largest market for New Zealand products, rose 1.5% to NZ$342 million. Imports from Australia rose 11% to NZ$780 million and from No. 2 ranked China rose 7.1% to NZ$430 million.

By Jonathan Underhill

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