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Overseas Merchandise Trade: August 2011
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  26 September 2011
Commentary

Overview – exports and imports rise

In the August 2011 month, merchandise exports were up $313 million and imports up $523 million from August 2010. There was a trade deficit of $641 million, or 19 percent of the exports value, in August 2011.

The seasonally adjusted value of exports decreased in August 2011 compared with July 2011, but imports increased.

The trend value for exports continues to be near a record high after rising from its most recent low point in October 2009. The import trend has been flat since March 2011.

Exports values up 10 percent in August 2011

In the August 2011 month, merchandise exports were valued at $3.4 billion, up $313 million (10 percent) from August 2010.

Meat, crude oil, and dairy contribute most to August 2011 export rise

Meat and edible offal, crude oil, and milk powder, butter, and cheese were the main contributors to the increase in exports in August 2011 compared with August 2010. All rose by similar amounts. 

  • Meat and edible offal values rose $76 million (32 percent), led by frozen lamb cuts with bone in.
  • Crude oil rose $73 million (65 percent) with prices and quantities both higher.
  • Milk powder, butter, and cheese rose $71 million (14 percent), led by anhydrous milk fat, unsalted butter, and sweetened skim milk powder.   
Graph, Meat and edible offal, monthly values and quantities, June 2009 to August 2011.  Graph, Crude oil exports, monthly values and quantities, June 2009 to August 2011.

Other key changes for commodity export values

  • Fruit rose $59 million (50 percent), led by fresh gold kiwifruit (up $49 million), with more than 10 times the quantity exported in August 2010.
  • Mechanical machinery and equipment rose $45 million (29 percent), led by refrigeration equipment for storage and display.
  • Aircraft and parts had the largest fall, down $26 million, nearly half the August 2010 value. The value of exports in this category tends to be irregular.

By country of destination, the value of exports in August 2011, compared with August 2010, rose (in order of significance) for:

  • the People’s Republic of China, up $117 million (47 percent), led by pinus radiata logs (up $40 million).
  • Australia, up $109 million (12 percent), led by crude oil (up $73 million) and fuel oil (up $30 million).
  • the Republic of Korea, up $28 million (30 percent), led by gold kiwifruit.

The United States of America recorded the largest decrease, down $27 million (9.8 percent), spread over several commodities.

Imports up 15 percent in August 2011

In the month of August 2011, merchandise imports were valued at $4.1 billion, up $523 million (15 percent) from August 2010.

Increase in imports driven by intermediate goods

The three main broad economic categories – intermediate, capital, and consumption goods – increased in value in August 2011 compared with August 2010.

 Graph, Imports by broad economic category, monthly values, June 2005 to August 2011.

Intermediate goods had the largest increase, up $336 million (21 percent). The increase was led by:

  • crude oil, up $161 million (53 percent). Crude oil is imported in large, irregular shipments, which can cause large percentage fluctuations in the series
  • industrial supplies, up $76 million (8.9 percent), spread over a range of commodities such as fertilisers.

Capital goods rose $130 million (22 percent), mainly due to an increase in machinery and plant, up $87 million (17 percent). There were increases for several machinery and plant commodities, the largest being pneumatic elevators and conveyors. Transport equipment was up $43 million (58 percent), due to the importation of railway vehicles. 

Consumption goods increased $69 million (6.9 percent), led by semi-durable goods, up $21 million (8.0 percent) and processed food, up $32 million (15 percent). Semi-durable goods include items such as toys and games, and clothing.

In other categories of goods, petrol and avgas increased and passenger motor vehicles were flat:

  • petrol and avgas, up $32 million, led by regular motor spirit
  • passenger motor vehicles, down $0.3 million, (0.1 percent). Petrol cars with an engine capacity of 1500–3000cc were down $10 million (7.3 percent) and petrol cars with an engine capacity of 1000–1500cc were up $8.1 million (43 percent).

Petroleum and products up 56 percent

Petroleum and products rose $206 million (56 percent), mainly due to crude oil imports increasing $161 million (53 percent). Large fluctuations in crude oil imports by country of origin occurred with:

  • Russia, up $185 million.
  • United Kingdom, up $101 million
  • Saudi Arabia, up $87 million
  • Oman, up $66 million
  • Qatar, down $108 million
  • Malaysia, down $65 million
  • Brunei, down $45 million.

 Graph, Petroleum and products imports, monthly values, June 2005 to August 2011.

Regular motor spirit rose $48 million, compared with the relatively low value imported in August 2010. Imports of regular motor spirit from Taiwan were up $40 million.

Other key increases in commodity import values

By commodity group, the value of imports in August 2011, compared with August 2010, rose (in order of significance) for:

  • mechanical machinery and equipment, up $71 million (16 percent)
    • pneumatic elevators and conveyors rose $28 million
    • parts of turbo-jets and turbo-propellers rose $21 million
  • railway vehicles rose $36 million
  • sugars and sugar confectionery, up $29 million
    • raw cane sugar rose $18 million
    • lactose and lactose syrup rose $7.8 million
  • electrical machinery and equipment, up $27 million (8.7 percent) over a range of commodities.

The arms and ammunitions group had the only major decrease, down from $59 million in August 2010 to $2.1 million in August 2011. Imports in this category are generally under $10 million.

Imports from China increase 14 percent

By country of origin, the value of imports in August 2011, compared with August 2010, rose for (excluding those countries with large petroleum movements): 

  • China, up $84 million (14 percent), over a range of commodities led by railway vehicles, and iron and steel articles
  • Australia, up $54 million (8.2 percent), over a range of commodities led by cereals (up $20 million) and raw sugar (up $18 million). There was a large offsetting decrease in crude oil, down $36 million 
  • Canada, up $39 million (120 percent), mainly due to an increase in fertilisers (up $29 million) 
  • Italy, up $29 million (53 percent), led by imports of aircraft and parts (up $18 million)

The United States of America, New Zealand’s third-largest import partner, recorded a decrease of $24 million (6.1 percent). Arms and ammunitions were down $57 million – excluding this group, imports were up $33 million.

August 2011 trade balance in deficit

In August 2011, the trade balance was a deficit of $641 million, or 19 percent of the value of exports. The August month is normally in deficit, and this month’s result compares with an average deficit of 27 percent of exports for the preceding five August months. 

 Graph, Merchandise trade balance, monthly, June 2005 to August 2011.

The annual trade balance for the year ended August 2011 was a surplus of $1.1 billion (2.3 percent of exports). This compares with an average deficit of 10 percent of exports over the preceding five August years, although there was a surplus in the August 2010 year ($871 million or 2.1 percent of exports).

Seasonally adjusted exports down from previous month

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the total export value fell 4.0 percent ($163 million) in August 2011, following a 2.4 percent rise in July 2011.

Total exports, excluding crude oil, decreased 4.4 percent ($169 million).

 Graph, Merchandise export values, monthly, June 2005 to August 2011.

Although exports fell overall on a seasonally adjusted basis, several of the larger commodity groups rose in August 2011. Seasonally adjusted movements in the values of leading export commodity groups in August 2011, compared with July 2011, are listed below.

  • Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports increased 0.8 percent ($8 million), following a 4.3 percent decrease in July. Quantities rose 5.2 percent in August 2011.
  • Meat and edible offal increased 11 percent ($43 million), following three months of falls. Quantities rose 7.2 percent in August 2011.
  • Logs, wood, and wood articles decreased 0.9 percent ($2 million), following larger falls in June and July.
  • Crude oil decreased 14 percent ($30 million), and aluminium and aluminium articles decreased 7.0 percent ($8 million). Neither of these commodity groups is seasonally adjusted because they do not have a stable seasonal pattern.
  • Mechanical machinery and equipment increased 17 percent ($28 million), following a 9.2 percent increase in July. 

Trend in export values remains high

The trend in export values has increased 26 percent ($810 million) since its most recent low point in October 2009, and continues to be near a record level. The trend appears to have flattened in recent months but more observations are required to confirm this.

Export trend by commodity group compared with the overall trend in exports since October 2009

  • Milk powder, butter, and cheese have contributed over 40 percent of the increase in the export value trend since October 2009, up 62 percent ($375 million). The trend has been declining since April 2011.
  • Logs, wood, and wood articles values are 33 percent higher ($68 million), with quantities being 27 percent higher. The trend appears to have been declining since March 2011 but more observations are required to confirm this.
  • Meat and edible offal values are 13 percent higher ($51 million), although quantities are 7.0 percent lower compared with October 2009. The trend appears to have been declining since April 2011 but more observations are required to confirm this.
  • Mechanical, machinery and equipment values are 23 percent higher ($30 million) and have been increasing strongly for the eight months to August 2011.

 

 Graph, Merchandise import values, monthly, June 2005 to August 2011.  

Seasonally adjusted imports rise 3.1 percent

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the total value of imports was up 3.1 percent ($115 million) in August 2011, following decreases of 1.8 percent in July 2011 and 7.6 percent in June 2011.

Vehicles, up 22 percent ($71 million), and mechanical machinery and equipment, up 15 percent ($70 million), led the increase. Both these commodity groups are not seasonally adjusted because they do not have a stable seasonal pattern.

Petroleum and products had the largest decrease, down 5.1 percent ($31 million). Petroleum and products are not seasonally adjusted.

Import trend flat since March 2011

The trend for import values (excluding one-off capital items) is up 21 percent ($647 million) since its most recent low point in September 2009, but is still 9.6 percent below its overall peak in September 2008. The trend had been mainly increasing since September 2009, but has been flat since March 2011.

Excluding petroleum and products, and one-off capital items, the trend for imports has been mainly increasing since September 2009 (up 19 percent) although it is still 6.9 percent lower than September 2008.

Import trend by commodity group compared with the overall trend in imports since September 2009

Petroleum and products, the largest import commodity group (see table 6), has increased 30 percent since September 2009. This group does not have stable seasonality so cannot be calculated separately. However, this change can be inferred by comparing the trend in total imports with imports excluding petroleum and products.

Mechanical machinery and equipment, the second-largest category, has increased 22 percent. The trend was especially strong in mid-2010.

Electrical machinery and equipment has increased 15 percent and appears to be gaining strength in recent months, although more observations are required to confirm this.

Exchange rate movements

According to the Reserve Bank’s Trade Weighted Index, the New Zealand dollar was 0.8 percent lower in August 2011 compared with July 2011, and 8.3 percent higher compared with August 2010.

 Graph, Trade weighted index, monthly, June 2005 to August 2011.

Updates to previous statistics

Provisional values published on 24 August 2011 have been updated. Merchandise trade statistics for the latest three months are provisional to allow for the inclusion of late data and amendments.

Updates to overseas merchandise trade statistics 

Table, Updates to previous statistics. 

For technical information contact:
Soni Makaafi or Stuart Jones 
Wellington (04) 931 4600
Email: info@stats.govt.nz

Next release ...
Overseas Merchandise Trade: September 2011 will be released on 27 October 2011. 

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