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Overseas Merchandise Trade: January 2009
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  26 February 2009
Commentary

Information in this release is for the month of January 2009 compared with January 2008 unless otherwise stated.

Exports

The value of merchandise exports for January 2009 was $3.2 billion, up $92 million (3.0 percent) from January 2008. This followed a large increase of $600 million (24.1 percent) in January 2008 compared with January 2007. While exports are still at a high level, January 2009 showed the lowest monthly increase (from the same period of the previous year) since August 2007.

The trend for total merchandise exports has been rising steadily, at an average rate of 0.9 percent per month since January 2008. This follows a period of strong growth for the months of July 2007 to December 2007, when the trend rose by an average of 2.0 percent per month. The growth in the second half of 2007 was associated with exports of Tui oil commencing (in August 2007) and strong dairy prices.

This month's increase in exports was led by increases in preparations of cereals, flour and starch; casein and caseinates; and meat and edible offal.

Preparations of cereals, flour and starch rose $52 million to $100 million (up 107 percent), mainly as a result of increased quantities exported to China, Nigeria, and Australia. Casein and caseinates increased $50 million (53.3 percent), driven by an increase in the price and quantity of casein acid exported. Meat and edible offal increased $44 million (10.2 percent), mostly due to price increases in frozen sheep and lamb cuts (up $39 million or 22.5 percent).

Graph, Casein and Casienates Exports.   Graph, Milk Powder, Butter and Cheese Exports.

Milk powder, butter and cheese is the largest export category for New Zealand. For January 2009, this category decreased $7 million (0.8 percent). Increases in commodities such as natural milk constituents (up $62 million or 148 percent) were largely offset by a decrease in whole milk powder, down $83 million (23.0 percent), mainly as a result of lower prices.---PDF BREAK---

The largest offsetting decrease for exports was crude oil, down $214 million (79.2 percent), due to decreases in price and quantities. Contributing to the decline in quantity was the domestic processing of approximately 300,000 barrels of crude oil from the Tui oilfields. Aluminium and aluminium articles decreased $36 million (37.5 percent) mostly due to a quantity driven decrease in unwrought aluminium (down $32 million or 39 percent).

 Graph, Crude Oil Exports.

By country of destination, the largest increases in total exports were to the United States (up $167 million or 60.6 percent) and the People’s Republic of China (up $152 million or 123 percent). Natural milk constituents and casein acid were the main drivers of the increase to the United States. Whole milk powder and dairy based nutritional powdered formulas were the main contributors to the increase in China.

The largest decrease by country of destination was Australia, which was down $68 million for January 2009. The main cause of this decrease was a $140 million (71.4 percent) decrease in crude oil, partly offset by a $21 million (67.1 percent) increase in non-monetary gold.

Imports

In January 2009, the value of merchandise imports was $32 million (0.9 percent) lower than in January 2008, with a total value of $3.4 billion for the month. This is the first fall since August 2007.

The trend for merchandise imports appears to have reached a turning point, falling $95 million (2.3 percent) since September 2008. This follows a period of strong growth between July 2007 and September 2008. However, initial trend estimates may be revised and should be used with caution until more data points are available.

Of the main broad economic categories, capital goods recorded the only decrease, down $43 million (6.6 percent) due to a $44 million (34.4 percent) decrease in imports of transport equipment. Intermediate goods rose $57 million (3.6 percent) as a quantity driven increase in crude oil offset a slight decline in other intermediate goods. Consumption goods increased $49 million (6.3 percent), spread across a wide range of commodities. ---PDF BREAK---

Imports of passenger motor cars fell $105 million (48.3 percent), compared with January 2008, to its lowest value for any month since January 1998. This decline was led by quantity driven decreases in used petrol cars with engines between 1500 and 3000cc ($56 million), and petrol cars with engines in excess of 3000cc (both new and used) ($31 million). Only new petrol cars with engine capacities between 1500 and 3000cc showed a notable increase, up $10 million.

 Graph, Passenger Motor Car Imports.

At the more detailed commodity level, the biggest decrease was for vehicles, parts and accessories, which fell $117 million (29.9 percent). This was led by the decrease in passenger motor cars mentioned earlier, as well as a $43 million (43.8 percent) decrease in vehicles for the transport of goods. The next biggest decrease was for mechanical machinery and equipment, down $54 million (10.7 percent), with decreases across a number of commodities, including turbine parts and mechanical shovels.

The largest increase in imports came from petroleum and products, up $91 million (16.9 percent). This rise was led by a $60 million (22.0 percent) increase in crude oil, driven by quantities, as prices fell. The timing of crude oil shipments is irregular, and can cause large percentage fluctuations in the series.

By country of origin, the largest decrease in imports came from United Arab Emirates, down $135 million (93.7 percent) as no crude oil was imported from there in January 2009. The next largest decrease was from Japan (down $66 million or 19.4 percent), where an $85 million decrease in imports of vehicles was partly offset by a $26 million increase in automotive diesel.

Trade balance

In January 2009 the trade balance was a deficit of $187 million, or 5.9 percent of exports. This is the smallest deficit for a January month since 2001 (in dollar terms, and as a proportion of exports).

 Graph, Merchandise Trade Balance.

The annual trade balance for the year ended January 2009 was a deficit of $5.5 billion. As a percentage of exports (12.8 percent), this is smaller than the average deficit for the preceding five years (15.7 percent), and is similar to the trade deficit for the year ended January 2008 (12.9 percent).

Three months ended January 2009

Exports of merchandise goods for the three months ended January 2009 were valued at $10.7 billion, up 5.6 percent from the same period of the previous year.

In the three months ended January 2009, key increases and decreases in exports compared with the three months ended January 2008 were as follows:

By commodity:

  • Meat and edible meat offal had the largest increase for the quarter, up $208 million (18.4 percent).
  • Aircraft and parts had the next largest increase, up $152 million (588 percent). This is mostly due to large aeroplanes and other aircraft being exported in the quarter.
  • Crude oil (down $475 million or 63.0 percent), and aluminium and aluminium articles (down $63 million or 18.6 percent), had the largest decreases for the quarter.

By country:

  • Exports to the United States of America were up $471 million (49.4 percent). This was the largest increase for the quarter, led by a $139 million (174 percent) increase in natural milk constituents, followed by a $68 million (146 percent) increase in casein acid.
  • The People’s Republic of China, up $374 million (73.3 percent), had the next largest increase. This movement was led by increases in whole milk powder and dairy based nutritional powdered formulas.
  • The largest decrease for the quarter was for the Republic of Korea, down $137 million (34.2 percent), mainly due to a decrease in crude oil.

Imports of merchandise goods for the three months ended January 2009 were valued at $11.8 billion, up 7.1 percent from the same period of the previous year.

In the three months ended January 2009, key increases and decreases in the value of imports compared with the three months ended January 2008 were:

By commodity:

  • Salt, earths, stone, lime and cement had the largest increase, up $170 million, more than tripling in value mainly due to price increases.
  • Fertilizer also tripled in value, rising $167 million, led by imports of potassium chloride (up $63 million) and urea (up $59 million).
  • Petroleum and products increased $112 million (6.4 percent), led by a quantity driven increase in crude oil.
  • Vehicles, parts and accessories recorded the largest decrease, down $348 million (25.3 percent), led by falls in motor cars ($328 million) and vehicles for the transport of goods ($101 million), while tractors increased ($50 million).

By country:

  • Qatar had the largest increase, up $356 million (667 percent), driven by a large increase in the quantity of crude oil imported.
  • The People’s Republic of China had the second largest increase, up $289 million (19.1 percent), led by several commodities, including electrical machinery and equipment (up $52 million) and ships, boats and floating structures (up $44 million).
  • The largest decrease was from United Arab Emirates, down $310 million (84.5 percent) due to a large reduction in the quantity of crude oil.
  • The next largest decrease was from Japan, down $204 million (18.9 percent) due to a significant fall in the number of motor vehicles.

Exchange rate movements

According to the Reserve Bank’s Trade Weighted Index, the New Zealand dollar fell 0.5 percent in January 2009 compared with December 2008, and 23.0 percent compared with January 2008.

The New Zealand dollar has decreased in value for 11 successive months, and is now down 24.8 percent since February 2008

 Graph, Trade Weighted Index.

Updates to previous statistics

Provisional values published on 29 January 2009 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:
Kate Jackett or Scott Davis
Christchurch 03 964 8700
Email: overseastrade@stats.govt.nz 

Next release...

Overseas Merchandise Trade: February 2009 will be released on 27 March 2009

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