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Overseas Merchandise Trade: January 2011
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  28 February 2011
Commentary

Information in this release is for the month of January 2011 compared with January 2010 unless otherwise stated.

Exports

In the January 2011 month, merchandise exports were valued at $3.3 billion, up $136 million (4.3 percent) from January 2010.

In the January 2011 month compared with the January 2010 month, key increases and decreases in exports by commodity and by country of destination were as follows:

By commodity:

  • Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports had the largest increase, up $93 million (9.8 percent), dominated by an increase in unsweetened whole milk powder with higher quantities and prices. Unsalted butter was also a significant contributor.
  • Meat and edible offal had the second-largest increase, up $30 million (6.9 percent), led by frozen beef and sheep cuts (excluding lamb) partly offset by a fall in fresh and frozen lamb cuts.
  • Fish, crustaceans, and molluscs had the next-largest increase, up $22 million (30 percent), across a range of species.
  • Preparations of cereals, flour, and starch increased $20 million (43 percent), led by dairy based nutritional powder.
  • Crude oil had the largest decrease, down $26 million (13 percent), due to lower quantities. 
Graph, Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports, monthly values and quantities.  Graph, Meat and edible offal exports, monthly values and quantities.

 By country of destination:

  • The People’s Republic of China recorded the largest increase, up $94 million (26 percent), led by unsweetened whole milk powder (up $55 million) and fish, crustaceans, and molluscs (up $24 million).
  • The United States of America had the second-largest increase, up $47 million (21 percent), led by meat and edible offal (frozen beef cuts), and casein and caseinates.
  • Korea had the third-largest increase, up $28 million (28 percent), across a range of commodities.
  • Australia, New Zealand’s largest export market, was up $19 million (2.8 percent), with an increase in petroleum and products (mainly crude oil) partly offset by a fall in mechanical machinery and equipment.
  • Singapore recorded the largest decrease, down $61 million (53 percent), mainly due to a fall in crude oil. No crude oil was exported there in January 2011.
  • Japan had the second-largest decrease, down $38 million (16 percent), with decreases across several commodities.  

Imports

In the month of January 2011, merchandise imports were valued at $3.3 billion, up $396 million (14 percent), from January 2010.

The three main broad economic categories, as well as the petrol and avgas category, were all up in January 2011 compared with January 2010. Passenger cars, and military and other goods provided small offsetting decreases.

  • The intermediate goods category recorded the largest increase, up $235 million (17 percent). This was led by an increase in processed industrial supplies, followed by an increase in parts and accessories. This increase was partly offset by a decrease in fuels and lubricants.
  • Capital goods increased $77 million (17 percent), mostly due to a $67 million (17 percent) increase in plant and machinery. Leading this rise were increases in power generating machinery, and general industrial machinery and apparatus. Transport equipment also increased $10 million (15 percent).
  • The petrol and avgas category increased $50 million (42 percent) due to an increase in the value of motor spirit imported.
  • Consumption goods also increased, up $40 million (5.4 percent), the eighth consecutive monthly increase compared with the same month of the previous year. 
     

 Graph, Imports by broad economic category, monthly values.

In January 2011 compared with January 2010, the key increases and decreases in imports by commodity grouping and by country of origin were as follows:
 
By commodity:
  • Mechanical machinery and equipment was the largest increase, up $107 million (31 percent). A large proportion of the increase in this category relates to the import of turbines and parts. The remainder of the increase was spread across a range of commodities.
  • Electrical machinery and equipment had the second-largest increase, up $80 million (38 percent). The increase in this commodity was led by parts for wind-powered electric generating sets, and generators and generating sets.
 Graph, Mechanical machinery and equipment imports, monthly values.  Graph, Electrical machinery and equipment imports, monthly values.
  • Food residues, wastes, and fodder increased $40 million (144 percent), led by increases in oil-cake and other solid residues used for stock feed.
  • The largest offsetting decrease was in a $30 million (89 percent) decrease in ships, boats, and floating structures. 
     

By country of origin:

  • The two largest increases were from Malaysia and Singapore, up $144 million (255 percent) and $118 million (208 percent), respectively. Kuwait also increased $52 million (236 percent) to be the fourth-largest increase for the month. The two largest offsetting decreases were from Russia (down $80 million with almost no imports this month), and Qatar (down $66 million or 49 percent). The large movements in these countries are due to the import of petroleum and products. Petroleum and product import shipments tend to fluctuate by country of origin, which gives rise to large changes in quantities and values.
  • The Peoples Republic of China increased $76 million (16 percent). A variety of goods caused this increase, including electrical machinery and equipment, fertilisers, and mechanical machinery and equipment.
  • Denmark increased $40 million (348 percent), led by the import of wind-powered electric generating sets. 
     

Trade balance

In January 2011, the trade balance was a surplus of $11 million or 0.3 percent of the value of exports. This is the second consecutive surplus for a January month, following eight deficits.

 Graph, Merchandise trade balance, monthly.

The annual trade balance for the year ended January 2011 was a surplus of $865 million (2.0 percent of exports). This is the first surplus for the year ended January since 2002.

Additional monthly seasonally adjusted and trend series

This information release includes additional monthly seasonally adjusted and trend series. The additional series are being introduced to make it easier to interpret the existing monthly series and to better act as a leading indicator of quarterly overseas merchandise trade.

Monthly seasonally adjusted series for total exports and imports, and both seasonally adjusted and trend series for a selected range of export and import commodity categories, will be included in all future data releases. These replace the previous three-monthly comparisons in the commentary.

Seasonal adjustment removes the seasonal component of a data series and allows the data to be compared with adjacent months. Seasonal adjustment has been performed in monthly Overseas Merchandise Trade for some time as part of trend estimation processes but has been unpublished to date.

Trend estimation removes the seasonal and irregular components of a series and allows the longer-term behaviour of the series to be observed. Monthly trend series for total exports and imports have been published for some time.

These additional monthly seasonally adjusted and trend series are available in tables 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 of this release, and will be available on Infoshare from 1 March 2011.

For more information on the above changes please contact info@stats.govt.nz.

Seasonally adjusted exports – January 2011

The seasonally adjusted value of merchandise exports increased 5.9 percent to $3.9 billion in January 2011 (compared with December 2010), following a 1.6 percent increase in December 2010. 

 Graph, Merchandise export values, monthly.

Given the relatively small size of New Zealand’s overseas trade, and the predominance of a few significant export commodities, the seasonally adjusted data can occasionally be subject to large fluctuations. Large one-off capital imports and the flow through of large adjustments to the new season’s dairy export price are examples of changes that can have a significant impact on the import and export series, respectively.

Seasonally adjusted movements in the leading export commodity groupings in January 2011 compared with December 2010 were as follows:

  • Milk powder, butter, and cheese increased 2.7 percent ($23 million), following a 1.3 percent increase in December 2010. Quantities were almost unchanged in January 2011.
  • Fish, crustaceans, and molluscs increased 12 percent ($13 million), following two months of decreases. Quantities were 13 percent higher in January 2011.
  • Crude oil (which is not seasonally adjusted) increased 62 percent ($68 million). This series is not seasonally adjusted because it does not have a stable seasonal pattern.
  • Logs, wood, and wood products decreased 16 percent ($46 million), following a 16 percent increase in the previous month.
  • Meat and edible offal decreased 4.1 percent ($20 million) following four months of strong rises. 

Trend in export values

The trend for export values has mainly increased since the most recent low point in October 2009 (up 21 percent).

Trend in leading export commodity groupings: since October 2009

  • Milk powder, butter, and cheese is the major contributor to the increase in the exports values trend since October 2009, being 41 percent higher ($247 million). This is mainly due to higher prices, with quantities at a similar level to October 2009. More recently the value series peaked in July 2010, and has fallen 6.3 percent since then.
  • Meat and edible offal values are 15 percent ($60 million) higher. Most of this rise has been in the last five months, up 19 percent, after values declined in the middle of 2010. Quantities are 6.7 percent lower compared with October 2009.
  • Logs, wood, and wood articles are 21 percent higher ($44 million), with quantities 29 percent higher. Values have flattened in recent months.
  • Fish, crustaceans, and molluscs values are 15 percent ($15 million) higher with quantities 14 percent higher.
  • Fruit values are up 7.7 percent ($9 million) compared with October 2009 and have been trending up strongly since September 2010 following a slump before that in 2010. 

Recent changes in trend values of selected export commodity groupings are illustrated in the graph below:

 Graph, Indexed export trend values by leading commodity groupings, monthly.

Seasonally adjusted imports – January 2011

Seasonally adjusted imports decreased 1.8 percent ($68 million) this month compared with last month. This decrease follows an 11 percent ($388 million) increase between November and December 2010.

Excluding petroleum and products, which are lumpy and have a significant influence on monthly movements, total imports decreased 1.9 percent ($62 million) between December 2010 and January 2011.

 Graph, Merchandise import values, monthly.

Seasonally adjusted movements in the leading import commodity groupings in January 2011 compared with December 2010 were as follows:

  • Electrical machinery and equipment had the largest increase, up 13 percent ($40 million).
  • Plastic and plastic articles followed, with an increase of 14 percent ($19 million) for the month.
  • Textiles and textile articles increased 9.7 percent ($15 million), although this series does not have stable seasonality therefore it is not seasonally adjusted.
  • Petroleum and products showed the largest decrease, down 20 percent ($141 million) – this series also is not seasonally adjusted. 

Trend in import values

The trend for import values has mainly increased since the most recent low point in September 2009 (up 18 percent) but is still 12 percent below its peak in September 2008. The most recent periods for the trend will have been influenced by the increase in capital items imported this month.

Excluding petroleum and products, the trend is at its highest level since January 2009, although this is still 7.8 percent below the peak seen in October 2008 for this series.

Trend in selected import commodity groupings: Since September 2009

  • Mechanical machinery and equipment had the largest increase, up 22 percent ($84 million). Following initial decreases, this series has been increasing since November 2009. Growth however, appears to be weakening since May 2010.
  • Electrical machinery and equipment increased 11 percent ($34 million). Like mechanical machinery and equipment, this series initially decreased but since January 2010, it has increased at an average of 1.7 percent per month. Since September 2010, the trend appears to be strengthening.
  • The trend for plastic and plastic articles has increased 12 percent ($14 million). Following a period of decline in the middle of 2010, this trend now appears to be increasing again – however, more data points are needed to confirm this movement.

Exchange rate movements

According to the Reserve Bank’s Trade Weighted Index, the New Zealand dollar was 1.3 percent higher in January 2011 compared with December 2010, and 3.9 percent higher compared with January 2010. 

 Graph, Trade weighted index, monthly.

Updates to previous statistics

Provisional values published on 31 January 2011 have been updated. Merchandise trade statistics for the latest three months are provisional to allow for the inclusion of late data and amendments.

 Update to previous statistics 

For technical information contact:
Litia Tapu or Selena Eaqub
Wellington (04) 931 4600
Email: info@stats.govt.nz.

Next release...

Overseas Merchandise Trade: February 2011 will be released at a date to be advised.

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