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Car buying binge blows out NZ trade deficit in September


Friday 25th October 2002

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A car buying binge has blown out the trade deficit, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Based mainly on preliminary import figures, the September trade deficit expanded to $334 million from $60 million a year ago.

The deficit, which was an improvement of the $525 million shortfall in August, was bang on economists' forecasts.

For the September quarter, the deficit was $1.13 billion compared with a surplus of $821 million in the June quarter and a deficit of $190 million in the September quarter last year.

Record values of car imports and increased imports of consumer goods contributed to a 2.7 percent increase in the seasonally adjusted value of imports in the September quarter.

The department said imports of cars, parts and accessories was now the largest commodity group in value and trend figures showed that the value of car imports had risen 40.7 percent since the December 2000 quarter.

New Zealanders splashed out $4.7 billion on cars and parts in the September year, up a quarter on the previous year. In the September quarter they spent $1.29 billion, up 29.6 percent on the September 2001 quarter.

The number of new cars imported in the September quarter is 24.5 percent higher than in the June quarter and 20 percent higher than in the September quarter last year.

The introduction of frontal impact standards on April 1 appears to have fuelled demand for new cars. The number of used cars imported has declined since the March quarter and is now at the same level as the September quarter last year.

Imports overall were up 4.5 percent in September, up 4.0 percent in the September quarter and up 0.7 percent in the September year.

Exports were down 5.9 percent in value in September, down 7.6 percent in the September quarter and down 3.5 percent for the year.

Consumer goods imports were up 1.3 percent in seasonally adjusted value in the September quarter while intermediate goods fell 0.7 percent despite a rise in crude oil prices. The 9.5 percent rise in capital transport equipment was mostly offset by a 2.2 percent fall in machinery and plant imports.

Among New Zealand's main markets, imports from China rose 11 percent in the year, from Japan 9.3 percent and Germany 6.7 percent.

Imports from Italy rose 15 percent to $814 million in the year while imports from the United States fell 6.6 percent.

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