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Overseas Merchandise Trade: April 2013
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  24 May 2013
Commentary

All comparisons are between April 2013 and April 2012, unless otherwise stated.

Exports rise 2.2 percent

In April 2013, merchandise exports were valued at $4.0 billion, up $83 million (2.2 percent) from April 2012.

Rise in exports led by meat

Meat and edible offal exports increased $57 million (11 percent). This was led by a rise in exports of frozen lamb cuts, up $25 million (18 percent). Frozen boneless beef also contributed to the increase, up $15 million (8.8 percent). This followed a rise in meat exports in March 2013, up $94 million from March 2012, led by beef.

Graph, Meat edible offal exports, monthly values and quantities, March 2007 to April 2013.  

The number of lambs slaughtered for export rose 22 percent in the March 2013 quarter compared with the March 2012 quarter. The number of cattle slaughtered rose 29 percent. (These data series, from the Ministry for Primary Industries, are published in table 9 of the Excel files in the ‘Downloads’ box.)

For April 2013, other key changes in commodity group export values were seen for:

  • petroleum and products (including crude oil) – up $46 million (46 percent), due to increases in crude oil and partly refined petroleum
  • preparations of cereals, flour, and starch – up $27 million (39 percent), mainly due to infant food preparations
  • fruit had the largest offsetting decrease – down $28 million (11 percent), led by kiwifruit
  • mechanical machinery and equipment – down $23 million (16 percent), over a range of commodities.

Milk powder, butter, and cheese (the largest export commodity group) rose $19 million (2.2 percent), led by skimmed milk powder, up $32 million (32 percent), and anhydrous milk fat, up $16 million (29 percent). Natural milk constituents fell $28 million (46 percent), and whole milk powder fell $12 million (3.0 percent).

Exports to China rise while Australia records small fall

More goods were exported to Australia than to China in April 2013, even though exports to China rose while exports to Australia fell, compared with April 2012. From January to March 2013, exports to China were greater than to Australia.

Exports to China rose $134 million (26 percent) to $654 million. This was led by frozen boneless beef, frozen lamb cuts, whole milk powder, and infant food preparations.

Exports to Australia fell $9.6 million (1.3 percent) to $727 million, but the largest commodity change was a rise in petroleum products, up $35 million.

Graph, Values of export goods to Australia and China, monthly, March 2007 to April 2013.

In April 2013, the value rose for exports to:

  • Singapore – up $38 million (71 percent), led by skimmed and whole milk powder, and partly refined petroleum
  • Korea – up $24 million (18 percent), over a range of commodities
  • Chile – up $23 million, due to whole milk powder, up $12 million from almost zero in April 2012.

In April 2013, the value fell for exports to:

  • Iran – down $25 million (94 percent), led by butter
  • Japan – down $45 million (15 percent), led by kiwifruit and wood pulp
  • United States – down $77 million (19 percent), led by natural milk constituents, casein and caseinates, and meat and edible offal (both beef and lamb)
  • Venezuela – down $38 million (84 percent), due to whole milk powder.

Imports rise 7.4 percent

In April 2013, imported goods were valued at $3.8 billion, up $263 million (7.4 percent) from April 2012.

Intermediate goods show the largest increase

For the three main economic categories, the value of intermediate goods rose while capital goods and consumption goods fell.

Graph, Imports by broad economic category, monthly values, March 2007 to April 2013.

Intermediate goods rose $322 million (17 percent), led by crude oil, up $143 million, and automotive diesel, up $105 million.

Capital goods fell $62 million (10 percent). Machinery and plant fell $87 million (18 percent), led by steam turbines, down $30 million. Transport equipment partly offset this fall, up $25 million (25 percent).

Consumption goods fell $15 million (1.8 percent), due to durable consumer goods (such as furniture), down $13 million (11 percent), and non-durable consumer goods (such as clothing), down $11 million (5.5 percent). This was partly offset by processed food and beverages (such as cereals), up $9.6 million (4.3 percent).

In other categories of goods:

  • passenger motor cars rose $55 million (21 percent), led by new diesel motor cars with an engine capacity exceeding 2500cc and used petrol motor cars with an engine capacity of 1500–3000cc
  • petrol and avgas fell $36 million (27 percent), due to premium motor spirit, partly offset by a rise in regular motor spirit.

Key movements in commodity import values

By commodity group, the value of imports rose for:

  • petroleum and products – up $235 million (45 percent), led by crude oil and automotive diesel
  • vehicles, parts, and accessories – up $68 million (16 percent), led by new diesel motor cars with an engine capacity exceeding 2500cc and used petrol motor cars with an engine capacity of 1500–3000cc
  • food residues, wastes, and fodder – up $16 million (42 percent), due to palm oil cake, up $24 million (most of the increase went to North Island ports).

Mechanical machinery and equipment fell $117 million (22 percent), led by steam turbines. There were no similar imports of steam turbines in April 2013.

Imports of petroleum and products lead country-of-origin changes

Import shipments of petroleum and products tend to fluctuate depending on where they come from, which causes large changes in quantities and values. In April 2013, compared with April 2012, petroleum and products influenced the value of imports from:

  • Malaysia, up $99 million, and United Arab Emirates, up $91 million, both due to crude oil
  • Korea, up $72 million (94 percent), led by automotive diesel and regular motor spirit
  • Japan, up $67 million (24 percent), due to automotive diesel
  • Taiwan, down $37 million (35 percent), due to premium motor spirit (partly offset by automotive diesel)
  • Singapore, down $29 million (16 percent), led by regular motor spirit and premium motor spirit.

Other significant import movements were seen for:

  • Thailand – up $30 million (24 percent), led by goods transport vehicles
  • Israel – down $26 million (82 percent), led by boilers.

For our two main import partners, imports from China fell $1.8 million (0.3 percent), and imports from Australia fell $11 million (2.1 percent). There was little change in major commodities.

Trade surplus in April 2013

In April 2013, there was a trade surplus of $157 million (4.0 percent of exports). This compares with an average surplus of 10 percent of exports over the previous five April months. April months have been in surplus since 2009.

Graph, Merchandise trade balance, monthly, March 2007 to April 2013.

For the year ended April 2013, there was an annual trade deficit of $694 million (1.5 percent of exports). Eight of the last 10 April years were trade deficits, but there were surpluses in the April 2010 and April 2011 years.

Seasonally adjusted exports fall 8.6 percent

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the value of exported goods fell 8.6 percent ($347 million) in April 2013, compared with March 2013. April’s fall was led by falls in commodities that do not have a seasonal pattern, such as crude oil, ships, boats, and floating structures, and aluminium and aluminium articles.

The trend value for merchandise exports is 1.9 percent below the highest-ever peak, of August 2011.

Graph, Merchandise export values, monthly, March 2007 to April 2013.

Change in seasonally adjusted exports values

In April 2013, crude oil fell 29 percent ($47 million), with quantities down 22 percent, ships, boats, and floating structures fell 87 percent ($41 million), and aluminium and aluminium articles fell 34 percent ($41 million).

In April 2013, logs, wood, and wood articles fell the most of all seasonally adjusted exports, down 13 percent ($37 million), following a 3.4 percent rise in the March month.

The value of seasonally adjusted meat and edible offal exports fell 6.9 percent ($32 million) in April 2013, compared with the March month (up 8.4 percent). The seasonally adjusted quantities for meat and edible offal fell 11 percent, compared with a 9.7 percent rise in March.

Milk powder, butter, and cheese fell 0.3 percent ($2.7 million) after an 18 percent fall in March 2013.

Trend for exports of milk powder, butter, and cheese shows little change

The trend for exports of milk powder, butter, and cheese has shown little change in recent months and is now 1.6 percent higher than its most recent low point, of April 2012.

Recent trends for the values of other leading commodity groups show that: 

  • meat and edible offal is 4.2 percent lower than its most recent high point, of September 2012
  • logs, wood, and wood articles has been increasing for over a year and is now 16 percent higher than its most recent low point, of March 2012
  • fruit is 20 percent lower than the most recent high, of July 2012.

Graph, Indexed export trend values by leading commodity groupings, monthly, March 2007 to April 2013.

Seasonally adjusted imports rise 1.5 percent 

Seasonally adjusted imports rose 1.5 percent ($60 million) to $3.9 billion in April 2013, compared with March 2013. This followed a 1.0 percent ($41 million) decrease in March 2013. Excluding petroleum and products, seasonally adjusted imports rose 1.2 percent in April 2013.

The trend for import values (excluding one-off imports) has shown little change in recent months.

Graph, Merchandise import values, monthly, March 2007 to April 2013.

Exchange rate movements

According to the Reserve Bank’s trade weighted index, the New Zealand dollar was 2.5 percent higher in April 2013 than in March 2013, and 6.8 percent higher than in April 2012.

Graph, Trade weighted index, March 2007 to April 2013.

For more detailed data, see the Excel tables in the ‘Downloads’ box.

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