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Overseas Merchandise Trade: August 2013
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  25 September 2013
Commentary

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

Exports rise 0.6 percent

In August 2013, exported goods were valued at $3.3 billion, up $19 million (0.6 percent) from August 2012.

Increase in exports led by logs, wood, and wood articles

Logs, wood, and wood articles exports increased by $120 million (45 percent). This was due to a rise in exports of pine logs, up $113 million.

Graph, Logs, wood, and wood articles, monthly values and quantities, June 2007 to August 2013.

Other key changes in commodity group export values, for August 2013:

  • aluminium and aluminium articles rose $45 million (51 percent), due to unwrought aluminium
  • crude oil had the largest offsetting decrease, falling $47 million (37 percent)
  • fruit fell $40 million (23 percent), due to kiwifruit
  • meat and edible offal fell $25 million (8.4 percent), led by frozen beef and sheep meat
  • preparations of cereals, flour, and starch fell $20 million (28 percent), led by infant food preparations

Milk powder, butter, and cheese (New Zealand’s largest export commodity group) fell $11 million (1.8 percent). The main contributors to this fall were whole milk powder, down $21 million and anhydrous milk fat, down $18 million. These were offset by rises in skimmed milk powder, up $18 million and buttermilk powder, up $8.2 million.

Rise in exports to four of our top five export partners

The movements for our top five export destinations (ranked by total annual exports) were:

  1. Australia – down $102 million (12 percent) to $722 million, led by crude oil
  2. China – up $94 million (21 percent) to $545 million, due to pine logs
  3. United States – up $20 million (8.3 percent) to $268 million, over a range of commodities
  4. Japan – up $10 million (3.6 percent) to $276 million, led by unwrought aluminium, up $26 million but offset by kiwifruit, down $13 million
  5. Korea – up $3.9 million (3.2 percent) to $127 million.

In the 12 months ended August 2013, our top five export partners accounted for $25.8 billion (57 percent) of total goods exported. This is up $76 million (0.3 percent) from the 12 months ended August 2012.

Other significant movements were seen for exports to:

  • India up $38 million and Brazil up $34 million
  • Taiwan – down $23 million (29 percent), due to kiwifruit
  • Saudi Arabia – down $18 million (38 percent), led by whole milk powder, anhydrous milk fat, and cheese
  • Venezuela – down $17 million (51 percent), due to whole milk powder.

Imports rise 9.7 percent

In August 2013, imported goods were valued at $4.5 billion, up $398 million (9.7 percent) from August 2012. This is the largest value for any August month. The main contributor to this increase was capital goods, which included the large one-off import of a drilling platform.

Excluding large one-off items, goods imported were valued at $4.3 billion in August 2013, up $203 million (4.9 percent) from August 2012.

Capital goods show the largest increase

The value of all three main economic categories – capital goods, consumption goods, and intermediate goods – rose.

Graph, Imports by broad economic category, monthly values, June 2007 to August 2013.

Capital goods rose $283 million (40 percent). Machinery and plant rose $255 million, due to the previously reported drilling platform. Transport equipment rose $28 million, due to goods delivery vehicles.

Consumption goods rose $21 million (2.0 percent), over a variety of commodities.

Intermediate goods showed little change, up $6.1 million (0.3 percent), led by processed industrial supplies (including urea and potassium chloride), up $81 million. This was largely offset by crude oil, down $60 million, and processed food and beverages, down $13 million.

In other categories of goods:

  • passenger motor cars rose $95 million (31 percent), led by new and used petrol motor cars
  • petrol and avgas fell $25 million (28 percent), due to regular motor spirit. 

Key movements in commodity import values

By commodity group, the value of imports rose for:

  • ships, boats, and floating structures – up $203 million, due to the drilling platform
  • vehicles, parts, and accessories – up $121 million (25 percent), due to motor vehicles
  • fertilisers – up $71 million (253 percent), led by urea, and potassium chloride
  • mechanical machinery and equipment – up $64 million (13 percent), led by self-propelled cranes, and distilling and heat treatment equipment.

Petroleum and products – down $91 million (14 percent), led by crude oil, down $60 million, and regular motor spirit, down $27 million.

Imports rise from four of our top five import partners

August month movements for imports from our top five import partners (ranked by total annual imports) were:

  1. China – up $266 million (38 percent) to $958 million, led by the drilling platform, and railway wagons  
  2. Australia – down $57 million (9.1 percent) to $576 million, over a range of commodities
  3. United States – up $20 million (4.9 percent) to $430 million, led by ammonium sulphide and turbines
  4. Japan – up $49 million (21 percent) to $277 million, due to new and used motor cars
  5. Germany – up $34 million (17 percent) to $237 million, led by new and used motor cars.

In the 12 months ended August 2013, our top five import partners accounted for $24.4 billion (51 percent) of total goods imported. This is down $750 million (3.0 percent) from the 12 months ended August 2012.

Other significant changes in the value of imports were caused by which country the crude oil was imported from. In August 2013, compared with August 2012, crude oil influenced the value of imports from:

  • United Arab Emirates, up $96 million, Russia, up $94 million, and Malaysia up $62 million
  • Brunei, down $150 million, Oman down $98 million, and Saudi Arabia down $98 million. 

Trade deficit in August 2013

In August 2013, there was a trade deficit of $1.2 billion (36 percent of exports). This is the largest trade deficit for any August month.

August months are normally trade deficits, and this month compares with an average deficit of 22 percent of exports over the previous five August months.  Excluding one-off large capital imports, the deficit would still be the second largest recorded for any August month.   

Graph, Merchandise trade balance, monthly, June 2007 to August 2013.

For the year ended August 2013, there was an annual trade deficit of $2.1 billion (4.5 percent of exports). Eight of the last 10 August years were trade deficits. The surpluses were in the August 2010 and August 2011 years.

Seasonally adjusted exports rise 2.1 percent

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the value of exported goods rose 2.1 percent ($79 million) in August 2013, compared with July 2013. This follows a 5.8 percent decrease in July 2013. August’s rise was led by a rise in aluminium and aluminium articles, which is not seasonally adjusted, and logs, wood, and wood articles.

The trend for merchandise exports has been decreasing in recent months. The trend value for August 2013 is 3.7 percent lower than the series high point in August 2011.

Graph, Merchandise export values, monthly, June 2007 to August 2013.

Change in seasonally adjusted exports values

In August 2013, aluminium and aluminium articles (not seasonally adjusted), rose from $38 million to $133 million, with quantities up from 12 tonnes to 49 tonnes. Timing of shipments appears to be a major contributor to this recorded movement.

Logs, wood, and wood articles increased the most of all commodities that have a seasonal pattern, up 14 percent ($45 million), compared with a 5.8 percent fall in the July month.

The value of seasonally adjusted meat and edible offal exports fell 7.3 percent ($33 million) in August 2013, compared with a 2.5 percent rise in the July month. Milk powder, butter, and cheese fell 3.0 percent ($31 million) following a 14 percent rise in the July month. 

Trend for exports of logs, wood, and wood articles continues at high levels

Exports of logs, wood, and wood articles continue to report high levels, now 37 percent higher than the most recent low point of February 2012.

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

  • milk powder, butter, and cheese is 0.8 percent lower that its recent high point of August 2012
  • meat and edible offal is 5.5 percent lower than its most recent high point of September 2012  
  • fruit is 13 percent lower than the July 2012 high point.

 Graph, Indexed export trend values by leading commodity groupings, monthly, Base: June 2007 (=1000), June 2007 to August 2013.

Seasonally adjusted imports fall 2.5 percent 

Seasonally adjusted imports fell 2.5 percent ($109 million) to $4.3 billion in August 2013, compared with July 2013. This follows a 13 percent ($501 million) increase in July 2013. Excluding petroleum and products, seasonally adjusted imports rose 0.8 percent in August 2013.

The trend for imported goods values (excluding one-off imports) has been increasing in recent months.

Graph, Merchandise import values, monthly, June 2007 to August 2013.

Exchange rate movements

According to the Reserve Bank’s trade weighted index, the New Zealand dollar in August 2013 shows no change compared to July 2013, and is 2.6 percent higher than in August 2012.

Graph, Trade weighted index, monthly, base: June 1979 (=100), June 2007 to August 2013.

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

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