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NZ trade deficit little changed in December as exports, imports decline

Monday 30th January 2017

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New Zealand's monthly trade deficit was little changed in December from the year-earlier month as imports and exports both slid by about the same amount.

The country had a $41 million trade deficit in December 2016, compared with a $42 million deficit in December 2015, Statistics New Zealand said. The deficit is less than the $98 million anticipated by economists, according to a consensus forecast. The value of New Zealand's exports in December shrank by $41 million, or 0.9 percent, to $4.38 billion, while imports reduced by $42 million, or 0.9 percent, to $4.42 billion.

The decline in exports was led by a $93 million fall in the value of meat and edible offal exports, the country's second-largest export commodity group. Beef exports slid by $47 million, or 17 percent, while the quantity reduced by 12 percent. Lamb exports also dropped $47 million, or 17 percent, with the quantity down 18 percent.

Bucking the trend, exports of milk powder, butter and cheese, the largest commodity export group, advanced $109 million, or 8 percent, to $1.47 billion. Milk powder exports rose $60 million, or 7 percent, to $857 million even as the quantity exported declined 4.7 percent. 

Wood exports, the third-largest commodity group, were little changed in the month, down 1 percent to $347 million, while exports of fruit, the fourth-largest group, jumped 51 percent to $49 million.

Meanwhile, the slide in imports was led by a 2.5 percent fall in the value of intermediate goods. Imports of processed industrial supplies such as palm oil cake, plastics and fertilisers declined by $75 million, or 8.6 percent, offset by a $58 million lift in the value of processed fuels such as automotive diesel and jet fuel.

The statistics agency noted that Wellington's CentrePort had been affected by the Nov. 14 Kaikoura earthquake and is only partially operational. The value of exports through CentrePoint dropped 90 percent in December, compared with the year-earlier month. Exports through CentrePort accounted for 0.4 percent of the total value of the country's exports by sea, compared to an average 2.7 percent for the five previous December months, it said. The value of imports through CentrePort was down 40 percent from the same month in 2015 and it accounted for 3 percent of the total value of imports by sea, lagging its 6.1 percent average for the previous five December months.

On an annual basis, exports declined 1.1 percent to $48.4 billion in the 2016 year, compared with 2015, while imports slid 1.7 percent to $51.6 billion. The annual trade deficit was $3.2 billion or 6.6 percent of exports.

 

 

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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