World Economy

NZ Trade Deficit Narrows

 Asia was the biggest regional market for New Zealand. Asia was the biggest regional market for New Zealand.

New Zealand’s merchandise trade deficit narrowed in July from the same month last year as imports such as crude oil fell faster than exports such as milk powder and meat.

The trade deficit was $433 million last month, from a surplus of $110 million in June and from a deficit of $730 million in July 2015, Statistics New Zealand said. The annual trade gap narrowed to $3.03 billion from $3.3 billion in the 12 months to June 30, NZ Newswire reported.

A monthly deficit of $350 million and an annual gap of $2.98 billion was expected, based on a Reuters survey.

Falling crude oil prices contributed to a 10% decline in imports to $4.4 billion in July from a year earlier, accounting for more than one-third of the $503 million decline.

The drop reflected a decline in global crude oil prices and in the volume imported, Statistics New Zealand said. Brent crude dropped as low as $27.88 a barrel in January and had recovered to $50.35 a barrel by the start of July, down from about $62 a barrel a year earlier.

Global crude prices also had a bearing on New Zealand’s dairy exports, with energy export-dependent Algeria recording the biggest decline in shipments of New Zealand dairy products last month—down 55% by value and 45% by quantity. Algeria is the third-biggest market for New Zealand milk powder.

Overall New Zealand milk powder exports fell by 23%, or $118 million, last month, while the quantity rose 0.9%, contributing to a 4.9% decline in total exports to $4 billion. Meat and edible offal exports fell by 19%, or $97 million.

  Record Meat Season

“The meat export falls this month are partly due to record meat exports this time last year,” said international statistics senior manager Jason Attewell. “Meat values in July 2015, off the back of a record high meat season, were 31% higher than the average value for the previous five July months.”

Exports of fruit fell 5.7% by value but rose 3.9% by volume last month.

China remained New Zealand’s largest market in the 12 months ended July 31, taking a total $9.1 billion, up 3.6% from a year earlier. Exports to Australia fell 1.3% to $8.4 billion, exports to the US rose 0.2% to $5.6 billion and to Japan rose 0.9% to $3 billion.

Asia was the biggest regional market, taking $21.8 billion of New Zealand’s total $48.6 billion of exports, up 3.6% in the year.

China was also the largest source of imports, sending $10.5 billion of goods to New Zealand in the latest year, up 10%, resulting in a $1.4 billion bilateral trade deficit for New Zealand.

Australia was second, sending $6.5 billion of products, up 3.4%, while the US was in third place on $6.1 billion, down 0.4%.

New Zealand’s exports of dairy products fell 8% to $11.1 billion in the latest year, while meat exports rose 0.5% to $6.5 billion, logs and wood rose 10.4% to $3.9 billion and fruit jumped 24% to $2.6 billion.