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Overseas Merchandise Trade: February 2010
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  26 March 2010
Commentary

Information in this release is for the month of February 2010 compared with February 2009 unless otherwise stated.

Exports

The value of merchandise exports for the month of February 2010 was $3.3 billion, down $124 million (3.6 percent) from February 2009. This is the ninth consecutive monthly fall in export values compared with the same month of the previous year.

The trend indicates that total merchandise exports appear to have been rising in recent months, although more data points are required to confirm the direction. The level of the trend has risen 4.4 percent since the low in October 2009, but is still 9.8 percent lower than the peak in November 2008.

The top commodity categories recorded mixed results, with the majority recording decreases in February 2010 compared with February 2009. Key decreases and increases in exports by commodity and by country of destination were as follows:

By commodity:

  • Meat and edible offal recorded the largest decrease, down $72 million (11.4 percent), led by falls in lamb (with a decline in both frozen and fresh lamb cuts with bone in) and frozen venison.
 Graph: Meat and edible offal exports
  • Casein and caseinates recorded the second largest decrease, down $36 million (39.6 percent), led by falls in caseinates, with price and quantity both down.
  • Mechanical machinery and equipment fell $26 million (17.4 percent); recording falls across a variety of commodities, with dishwashers and earth moving machinery the most notable contributors to the decline.
  • Logs, wood, and wood articles recorded the largest increase, up $46 million (31.1 percent), driven by a rise in pinus radiata logs.
  • Aluminium and aluminium articles recorded the second largest increase, up $26 million (40.4 percent), driven by unwrought aluminium. This is the second consecutive monthly increase (compared to the same month of the previous year) following 14 months of falls. Aluminium exports recorded during February 2010 are still more than 20 percent lower (in both value and quantity terms) than aluminium exports recorded during February 2008.
  • Live animals recorded the third largest increase, up $21 million (125 percent). This increase was largely driven by increases in exports of thoroughbred colts and fillies for racing. 
  • Milk powder, butter, and cheese recorded the next largest increase, up $18 million (2.5 percent), with increases in anhydrous milk fat, unsalted butter, and unsweetened whole milk powder partially offset by a decline in natural milk constituents.

   Graph: Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports

By country of destination:

  • The United States recorded the largest decrease, down $136 million (31.0 percent). Notable contributors to the decline included milk powder, butter, and cheese (led by falls in natural milk constituents and cheese); casein and caseinates; and food residues, wastes, and fodder.
  • Germany recorded the second largest decrease, down $46 million (40.8 percent); led by a fall in meat and edible offal (driven by a decline in lamb and venison), with fish, crustaceans, and molluscs (driven by a fall in fish fillet blocks) also down.
  • Venezuela recorded the third largest decrease, down $43 million (93.0 percent); solely driven by a fall in milk powder, butter, and cheese, with unsweetened whole milk powder and cheddar cheese both down. Exports to Venezuela tend to be comprised almost entirely of milk powder, butter, and cheese exports.
  • Australia recorded the largest increase, up $49 million (7.0 percent); with rises in milk powder, butter, and cheese (led by cheese); live animals (led by thoroughbred colts and fillies for racing); and crude oil.

Graph: Exports to Australia 

  • The People’s Republic of China recorded the second largest increase, up $46 million (15.8 percent), with rises in logs, wood, and wood articles (led by pinus radiata logs); milk powder, butter, and cheese (led by unsweetened whole milk powder and skimmed milk powder); and wool.

Imports

The total value of merchandise imports for February 2010 was $3.0 billion, up $37 million (1.3 percent) from February 2009. This month’s rise is the first increase following ten consecutive monthly decreases (when compared with the same month of the previous year). Crude oil was the main contributor to this rise. Excluding crude oil, imports value fell 6.1 percent in February 2010 compared with February 2009.

The trend for total merchandise imports reached a turning point in September 2009, and has increased 7.9 percent since then. The trend is still 19.6 percent lower than its peak in September 2008.

Of the broad economic categories, intermediate goods, passenger motor cars, petrol and avgas, and military and other goods all rose in February 2010 compared with February 2009, while capital and consumption goods fell.

  • Passenger motor cars recorded the largest increase, up $98 million (103 percent), compared with February 2009, when the lowest February value since 1993 was recorded. Imports of new petrol cars with a cylinder capacity exceeding 3000cc (up $24 million) led the increase.
  • The intermediate goods category recorded the second largest increase, up $77 million (5.7 percent), the first rise following ten consecutive monthly falls when compared with the same month of the previous year. Crude oil rose $211 million while other intermediate goods fell $134 million. Crude oil import shipments can be irregular, which gives rise to large fluctuations in quantities and values.
  • Petrol and avgas rose $55 million (97.1 percent), due to an increase in imports of regular petrol (up $39 million).
  • Capital goods recorded the largest decrease, down $163 million (28.4 percent), due to falls in both machinery and plant (down $95 million), and transport equipment (down $69 million).
  • Consumption goods also declined, down $31 million (3.6 percent), and have fallen for the past eight months compared with the same month of the previous year. Non-durable goods (down $17 million) led the fall.

 Graph: Imports by broad economic category

The top commodity categories recorded mixed results, with just over half recording increases in February 2010 compared with February 2009. Key increases and decreases in imports by commodity and by country of origin were as follows:

By commodity:

  • Petroleum and products was the largest increase, up $204 million (69.0 percent), led by a rise in crude oil, up $211 million (205 percent). Crude oil quantities rose over 150 percent compared with February 2009, which was the lowest February quantity since the series began in 1988. Partly offsetting the rise in crude oil was a fall of $51 million in partly refined petroleum. Crude oil import shipments can be irregular, which gives rise to large fluctuations in quantities and values.

Graph: Petroleum and products imports 

  • Vehicles, parts, and accessories was the second largest increase, up $65 million (31.8 percent). New petrol cars with a cylinder capacity exceeding 3000cc led the increase.
  • Sugars and sugar confectionery also recorded an increase, up $22 million (242 percent), mainly due to imports of raw cane sugar (up $20 million).
  • Electrical machinery and equipment recorded the largest decrease, down $87 million (27.4 percent), led by falls in parts of electrical static converters, and in wind turbine generators.
  • Aircraft and parts fell $54 million (65.8 percent) mainly due to a fall in larger aircraft.
  • Mechanical machinery and equipment also fell $54 million (13.8 percent). The fall was spread over a number of commodities, led by engine parts.
  By country of origin:
  • Brunei Darussalam (Brunei) recorded the largest increase, up $146 million, due to an increase in crude oil. There was no crude oil imported from Brunei in February 2009. Crude oil import shipments can be irregular, which gives rise to large fluctuations in quantities and values, especially by country of origin.
  • Australia was the second largest increase, up $64 million (11.9 percent), led by an increase in sugar and sugar confectionery, up $22 million, mainly due to an increase in raw cane sugar (up $20 million). There was no raw cane sugar imported from Australia in February 2009.
  • Oman and the Republic of Korea (Korea) recorded the next largest increases, up $55 million and $40 million (59.4 percent), respectively. Oman’s increase was driven by a rise in crude oil, and Korea’s increase was driven by a rise in automotive diesel. In February 2009 there were no crude oil imports from Oman and no automotive diesel imports from Korea.
  • The United States recorded the largest decrease in imports, down $120 million (34.1 percent), led by aircraft, down $52 million.
  • Denmark was the second largest fall, down $63 million (83.5 percent), with a $42 million fall in electrical machinery and equipment, led by wind turbine generators and parts of electrical static converters, and a $19 million fall in mechanical machinery and equipment, due to engine parts.
  • Indonesia was the next largest decrease, down $46 million (54.8 percent), led by a $33 million fall in crude oil. There was no crude oil imported from Indonesia in February 2010.

Trade balance

In February 2010, the trade balance was a surplus of $321 million or 9.7 percent of the value of exports, following surpluses of 14.0 percent and 6.6 percent of exports in the February 2009 and February 2008 months. This compares with an average February trade surplus of 2.9 percent of exports for the previous ten years, with a mix of surpluses and deficits recorded during this period.

 Graph: Merchandise trade balance

The annual trade balance for the year ended February 2010 was a deficit of $347 million (0.9 percent of exports). As a percentage of exports this is much lower than the average deficit of 11.0 percent of exports for the preceding ten February years.

Three months ended February 2010

Exports of merchandise goods for the three months ended February 2010 were valued at $9.9 billion, a fall of $574 million (5.5 percent) from the same period of the previous year.

In the three months ended February 2010, key decreases and increases in exports compared with the three months ended February 2009 were as follows:

By commodity:

  • Meat and edible offal recorded the largest decrease, down $232 million (14.2 percent), with price-led falls in lamb, beef, and venison exports.
  • Casein and caseinates recorded the second largest decrease, down $218 million (57.5 percent), driven by lower prices and quantities.
  • Aircraft and parts recorded the next largest decrease, down $150 million (88.0 percent), largely due to a one-off export of large aircraft in December 2008.
  • Crude oil recorded the largest increase, up $193 million (68.4 percent), with an increase in price and quantity.
  • Ships, boats, and floating structures recorded the second largest increase, up $133 million (365 percent), driven by the one-off export of an oil rig in December 2009.
  • Logs, wood, and wood articles recorded the next largest increase, up $105 million (23.1 percent), driven by an increase in pinus radiata logs.

By country of destination:

  • The United States recorded the largest decrease, down $548 million (39.8 percent), led by falls in milk powder, butter, and cheese (mainly natural milk constituents and cheese); casein and caseinates; and meat and edible offal (with lower frozen beef prices and quantities).
  • Algeria recorded the second largest decrease, down $128 million (66.8 percent), driven by a fall in unsweetened whole milk powder. For the three month period ended February 2009 exports to Algeria were the highest recorded over any three month period since the series began in 1988. Exports to Algeria tend to be comprised almost entirely of milk powder, butter, and cheese exports.
  • Japan recorded the third largest decrease, down $126 million (15.5 percent), led by falls in meat and edible offal (mainly frozen beef cuts and beef offal); miscellaneous edible preparations; and crude oil. These were partially offset by an increase in aluminium exports.
  • Singapore recorded the largest increase, up $279 million (171 percent). This rise was driven by an increase in ships, boats, and floating structures (due to the one-off export of an oil rig in December 2009); and an increase in crude oil exports. Smaller increases in milk powder, butter, and cheese (led by unsweetened whole milk powder), and in meat and fish preparations (mainly paua preparations) also contributed to the rise.
  • China recorded the second largest increase, up $196 million (22.4 percent), driven by increases in milk powder, butter, and cheese (mainly unsweetened whole milk powder); and in logs, wood, and wood articles (led by pinus radiata logs).
  • Australia recorded the next largest increase, up $137 million (6.6 percent), driven by a price-led increase in crude oil exports (with quantity almost flat). A quantity-led rise in cheese exports also contributed to the increase.

Imports of merchandise goods for the three months ended February 2010 were valued at $9.3 billion, down 10.5 percent from the same period of the previous year.

For the three months ended February 2010, key increases and decreases in the value of imports compared with the three months ended February 2009 were:

By commodity:

  • Mechanical machinery and equipment recorded the largest decrease, down $332 million (23.7 percent), with falls across a wide range of commodities. Engine parts led the falls.
  • Electrical machinery and equipment had the second largest fall, down $238 million (24.5 percent), and was spread across several commodities. Wind turbine generators, and telecommunications base stations led this fall.
  • Iron and steel, and articles were the next largest fall, down $115 million (31.8 percent), and were spread across several commodities led by transmission tower components.
  • Petroleum and products was the largest increase, up $241 million (16.2 percent), due to crude oil (up $393 million) and regular petrol (up $66 million). Automotive diesel, jet fuel, and partly refined petroleum, combined, were down $174 million.
  • Sugar and sugar confectionery was the second largest increase, up $39 million (87.2 percent) – mainly due to a $27 million increase in raw cane sugar.

By country of origin:

  • The United States recorded the largest decrease, down $243 million (22.5 percent), led by falls of $86 million for mechanical machinery and equipment, and $64 million for aircraft and parts.
  • Japan was the second largest decrease, down $210 million (25.7 percent), led by a $138 million fall in petroleum and products.
  • Singapore was the next largest decrease, down $208 million (37.0 percent) – due to a $189 million fall in petroleum and products.
  • The United Arab Emirates recorded the largest increase, up $154 million (202 percent) due to crude oil. Crude oil imports shipments can be irregular, which gives rise to large fluctuations in quantities and values, especially by country of origin.
  • Brunei was the second largest increase, up $141 million (101 percent), due to crude oil.
  • Korea was the next largest increase, up $104 million (36.5 percent) due to a $150 million increase in petroleum and products. Iron and steel, and articles (down $43 million) partly offset this increase.

Exchange rate movements

According to the Reserve Bank's Trade Weighted Index (TWI), the New Zealand dollar was 2.3 percent lower in February 2010 compared with January 2010, and 23.5 percent higher compared with February 2009.

 Graph: Trade weighted index

Updates to previous statistics

Provisional values published on 26 February 2010 have been updated. Merchandise trade statistics for the latest three months are provisional to allow for the inclusion of late data and amendments.

Table: Updates to Previous Statistics 

For technical information contact:
Sarah Urlich or Soni Makaafi;
Christchurch (03) 964 8700.

Email: overseastrade@stats.govt.nz.

Next release...

Overseas Merchandise Trade: March 2010 will be released on 29 April 2010.

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