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Overseas Merchandise Trade: March 2013
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  26 April 2013
Commentary

Seasonally adjusted exports rise 0.8 percent in March 2013 quarter

The seasonally adjusted value of exported goods rose 0.8 percent ($93 million) to $11.6 billion in the March 2013 quarter. This followed a 2.9 percent ($340 million) decrease in the December 2012 quarter.

The trend for goods exported, which reflects the long-term behaviour of export values, remains at a high level, just 4.1 percent lower than the record high of the September 2011 quarter.

Graph, Merchandise export values, quarterly, March 2007 to March 2013 quarters.

Milk powder, butter, and cheese lead rise in seasonally adjusted exports

Milk powder, butter, and cheese (New Zealand’s largest export commodity group) led the rise in seasonally adjusted exports in the March 2013 quarter, up 3.5 percent ($96 million). This followed a 14 percent ($434 million) fall in the December 2012 quarter and a 17 percent ($461 million) increase in the September 2012 quarter. Quantities for the March 2013 quarter rose 3.6 percent, following a 15 percent decrease in the December 2012 quarter and a 36 percent increase in the September 2012 quarter.

The trend for milk powder, butter, and cheese values is 6.3 percent lower than its highest point, which was in the September 2011 quarter.

Graph, Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports, quarterly values and quantities, seasonally adjusted, March 2007 to March 2013 quarters.

Other key changes in commodity export values

In the March 2013 quarter, compared with the December 2012 quarter, the value of exports rose for:

  • casein and caseinates – up 19 percent ($38 million), with quantities up 18 percent
  • fruit – up 7.9 percent ($27 million), with quantities down 4.7 percent
  • electrical machinery and equipment – up 7.5 percent ($20 million)
  • meat and edible offal (New Zealand’s second-largest export commodity group) – up 1.2 percent ($16 million), with quantities up 6.8 percent.

By commodity group, the value of exports fell for:

  • crude oil, which is not seasonally adjusted, down 14 percent ($59 million)
  • aluminium and aluminium articles, which is also not seasonally adjusted, down 13 percent ($35 million).

Seasonally adjusted imports show little change in March 2013 quarter

The seasonally adjusted value of imported goods decreased 0.2 percent ($17 million) to $11.5 billion in the March 2013 quarter. This followed a 1.6 percent ($182 million) decrease in the December 2012 quarter.

The trend for imports has increased 20 percent from the September 2009 quarter, the most recent low point. The level of the trend is now 6.6 percent below the overall peak of the September 2008 quarter.

Graph, Merchandise import values, quarterly, March 2007 to March 2013 quarters.  

Intermediate goods and capital goods lead decrease in seasonally adjusted imports

For the three main broad economic categories, intermediate goods and capital goods decreased in value in the March 2013 quarter, and consumption goods showed little change.

Graph, Imports by broad economic category, quarter values, seasonally adjusted, March 2007 to March 2013 quarters.

Intermediate goods decreased 2.8 percent ($152 million), following a decrease of 0.8 percent ($45 million) in the December 2012 quarter. Processed industrial supplies fell 3.9 percent ($93 million) and crude oil fell 5.7 percent ($83 million). Crude oil is not seasonally adjusted. Processed fuels and lubricants rose 70 percent ($121 million).

Capital goods decreased 5.4 percent ($115 million). Transport equipment fell 25 percent (91 million) and machinery and plant fell 1.4 percent ($24 million).

Consumption goods showed little change, up 0.2 percent ($6.2 million) in the March 2013 quarter, following a decrease of 0.9 percent ($27 million) in the December 2012 quarter.

In other categories of goods:

  • petrol and avgas, which is not seasonally adjusted, increased 30 percent ($92 million) – down 8.9 percent from the previous quarter
  • passenger motor cars increased 5.7 percent ($46 million) – down 0.8 percent from the previous quarter.

Seasonally adjusted trade surplus in March 2013 quarter

In the March 2013 quarter, there was a seasonally adjusted trade surplus of $52 million, equivalent to 0.4 percent of exports. This followed a trade deficit of $59 million (0.5 percent of exports) in the December 2012 quarter.

Graph, Merchandise trade balance, quarterly, March 2007 to March 2013 quarters.

China top country for exports and imports

Country data is not seasonally adjusted. All comparisons are between the March 2013 quarter and the March 2012 quarter.

China became New Zealand's top export destination in the March 2013 quarter, overtaking Australia for the first time. Twenty percent of goods exported went to China, compared with 15 percent in the same quarter of the previous year.

In the March 2013 quarter, the top three countries that New Zealand exported goods to were:

  • China – $2.3 billion worth of exports, up $554 million (32 percent)
  • Australia – $2.2 billion, down $170 million (7.3 percent)
  • United States – $1.2 billion, up $107 million (10 percent).

In the March 2013 quarter, the top three countries that New Zealand imported goods from were:

  • China – $1.8 billion worth of imports, up $48 million (2.8 percent)
  • Australia – $1.5 billion, down $85 million (5.3 percent)
  • United States – $1.0 billion, down $167 million (14 percent).

Exports rise 5.1 percent in March month

In March 2013, merchandise exports were valued at $4.4 billion, up $213 million (5.1 percent) from March 2012.

Rise in exports led by meat and edible offal

Meat and edible offal exports rose $100 million (18 percent) to $662 million. This was led by boneless frozen beef cuts, up $81 million (47 percent).

Graph, Meat and edible offal exports, monthly values and quantities, March 2007 to March 2013.

Other key changes in commodity export values, for March 2013

Logs, wood, and wood articles rose $73 million (28 percent) to $336 million, due to pine logs.

Ships, boats, and floating structures rose $41 million due to exports of pleasure boats, up $39 million. There were no similar exports in March 2012.

Milk powder, butter, and cheese, New Zealand's largest export commodity group, showed little change, increasing $1.3 million (0.1 percent).

Petroleum and products other than crude oil showed the largest decrease, down $37 million (89 percent). This was led by partly refined petroleum, down $18 million, and bituminous road surface preparations, down $16 million.

Other decreases included:

  • aluminium and aluminium articles, down $31 million (21 percent)
  • mechanical machinery and equipment, also down $31 million (19 percent).

Exports to China lead increase

Exports to China showed the largest increase, up $278 million (47 percent). This was led by meat and edible offal, up $91 million (247 percent), whole milk powder, up $78 million (66 percent), and pine logs, up $74 million (102 percent).

In March 2013, the value also rose for exports to:

  • United States – up $63 million (16 percent), led by boneless frozen beef cuts, up $56 million (62 percent)
  • Fiji – up $40 million, due to exports of pleasure boats.

Japan showed the largest decrease, down $46 million (13 percent), led by naphthalene, down $26 million.

Venezuela showed the second-largest decrease, down $42 million (94 percent) due to whole milk powder.

Imports fall 7.9 percent in March month 

In the March 2013 month, imported goods were valued at $3.7 billion, down $319 million (7.9 percent) from March 2012.

Graph, Petroleum and products imports, monthly, March 2007 to March 2013.

Petroleum and products fall 14 percent

The value of petroleum and products fell $139 million (14 percent) in March 2013 compared with March 2012. The fall was mainly due to a decrease in crude oil, down $191 million. This was partly offset by an increase in automotive diesel, up $43 million, and regular motor spirit, up $26 million.

Other key changes in import values were seen for:

  • mechanical machinery and equipment – down $50 million (10 percent), led by excavators and cranes
  • salt, earths, stone, lime, and cement – down $24 million (42 percent), due to natural calcium phosphates
  • vehicles – up $16 million (4.1 percent), due to goods transport vehicles.

Imports of petroleum and products lead country-of-origin changes

Import shipments of petroleum and products tend to fluctuate depending on where they come from, which causes large changes in quantities and values. In March 2013, compared with March 2012, petroleum and products influenced the value of imports from:

  • Brunei, down $141 million, Russia, down $113 million, Qatar, down $109 million, Malaysia, down $82 million, and Indonesia, down $40 million, all due to crude oil
  • Singapore, down $94 million, over a range of petroleum and products
  • United Arab Emirates, up $229 million, and Oman, up $91 million, both due to crude oil
  • Korea, up $74 million, over a range of petroleum and products
  • Japan, up $38 million, due to regular motor spirit.

Other significant import movements were seen for:  

  • China – down $47 million (8.9 percent), led by textiles and textile articles
  • Morocco – down $33 million, due to natural calcium phosphates
  • Australia – down $30 million (5.5 percent) over a range of commodities
  • Togo – up $12 million, due to natural calcium phosphates.

March 2013 trade balance in surplus

In the March 2013 month, there was a trade surplus of $718 million (16 percent of exports). This compares with an average deficit of $354 million (8.3 percent of exports) over the previous five March months.

Graph, Merchandise trade balance, monthly, March 2007 to March 2013.  

Exchange rate movements

According to the Reserve Bank’s trade weighted index (TWI), the New Zealand dollar was 0.3 percent lower in March 2013 than in December 2012, and 4.2 percent higher than in March 2012.

The TWI rose 3.1 percent in the March 2013 quarter, compared with the December 2012 quarter. The TWI was 4.7 percent higher in the March 2013 quarter than it was in the same quarter in 2012.

Graph, Trade weighted index, monthly, March 2007 to March 2013.  

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

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