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Overseas Merchandise Trade: March 2016
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  27 April 2016
Commentary

This commentary refers to trade in goods only.

See Goods and Services Trade by Country: Year ended December 2015 for information on trade in goods and services.

Quarterly exports fall 1.2 percent

The seasonally adjusted value of exported goods fell 1.2 percent ($145 million) to $11.9 billion in the March 2016 quarter. This followed a 5.8 percent fall in the December 2015 quarter.

 

Meat and edible offal leads fall in seasonally adjusted exports

Comparisons are between the March 2016 quarter and the December 2015 quarter.

Meat and edible offal led the fall this quarter, down 17 percent ($300 million) to $1.5 billion, following a 3.6 percent fall in the December 2015 quarter. Compared with the March 2015 quarter, values are down 11 percent, while compared with the March 2014 quarter, values are up 0.8 percent. The quantity exported fell 16 percent this quarter from the series peak in the December 2015 quarter. Top destinations for meat and edible offal exports were the USA and China.

Milk powder, butter, and cheese (our largest export commodity group) fell 6.4 percent ($181 million). This follows a 6.7 percent fall in the December 2015 quarter. The quantity exported in the March 2016 quarter fell 8.2 percent.

Crude oil (not seasonally adjusted) fell $91 million (56 percent), with the quantity exported down 46 percent. This follows a 13 percent fall in value in the December 2015 quarter.

Other key changes in commodity group export values: 

  • Casein and caseinates fell 21 percent ($57 million), with quantity exported down 16 percent. 
  • Logs, wood, and wood articles rose 4.9 percent ($44 million).
  • Wool rose 23 percent ($38 million), with quantity exported up 28 percent.

Quarterly exports to China fall

In the March 2016 quarter, compared with the December 2015 quarter, the top export destinations (ranked by total annual exports) for New Zealand were:

  • China – down 8.0 percent ($175 million) to $2.0 billion.
  • Australia – up 2.5 percent ($51 million) to $2.1 billion.
  • European Union (EU) – down 5.2 percent (71 million) to $1.3 billion.

Quarterly imports fall 3.2 percent

The seasonally adjusted value of imported goods fell 3.2 percent ($426 million) to $12.8 billion in the March 2016 quarter. This followed a 3.9 percent ($532 million) fall in the December 2015 quarter.

Excluding large one-off imports, the seasonally adjusted value of imported goods fell 1.2 percent in the March 2016 quarter, and follows a 2.6 percent fall in the December 2015 quarter.

The trend for imports has now fallen for the second successive quarter. Prior to the December 2015 quarter it had been rising since the March 2013 quarter. The trend calculation excludes large import items.

 

 

Capital goods lead the fall in seasonally adjusted quarterly imports

Of the three main broad import categories, capital goods decreased in value in the March 2016 quarter, while intermediate goods and consumption goods increased in value.

 

Capital goods fell 19 percent ($566 million) in the March 2016 quarter, following a 10 percent fall in the December 2015 quarter. Industrial transport equipment (down $409 million) and machinery and plant (down $157 million) both fell in the March 2016 quarter. The movements for both quarters were influenced by aircraft imports in July, August, and November 2015.

Intermediate goods showed little change, up 0.5 percent ($26 million) in the March 2016 quarter, following a 2.8 percent fall in the December 2015 quarter. Fuels and lubricants (other than motor spirit) and processed food and beverages for industrial use (such as sugar and vegetable oils) increased in the March 2016 quarter, while parts and accessories of transport equipment (such as aircraft parts), crude oil, and parts and accessories of capital plant (such as mechanical machinery and equipment) decreased.

Consumption goods increased 1.1 percent ($40 million) in the March 2016 quarter, following a decrease of 0.3 percent in the December 2015 quarter.  Processed food and beverages for household consumption, and durable consumer goods (such as electrical equipment) led the rise, but were offset by a fall in non-durable consumer goods (such as tobacco).

In other categories of goods:

  • Passenger motor cars increased 4.1 percent ($45 million) in the March 2016 quarter, following a 1.4 percent rise in the December 2015 quarter.
  • Petrol and avgas, which is not seasonally adjusted, decreased 1.5 percent ($3.1 million), following a 24 percent fall in the December 2015 quarter.

Imports from Australia and China rise despite overall fall in seasonally adjusted imports

In the March 2016 quarter, compared with the December 2015 quarter, the movements in seasonally adjusted values for the top import sources (ranked by total annual imports) for New Zealand were:

  • China – up 0.9 percent ($24 million) to $2.7 billion, following a 0.7 percent fall in the December 2015 quarter. 
  • European Union (EU) – down 2.7 percent ($63 million) to $2.3 billion, following a 0.7 percent rise in the December 2015 quarter.  
  • Australia – up 14 percent ($220 million) to $1.8 billion, following a 1.7 percent rise in the December 2015 quarter. 

The movements in quarterly import values (which are not seasonally adjusted) for New Zealand’s two other major trading partners were:

  • United States– down 30 percent ($509 million) to $1.2 billion, following a 10 percent fall in the December 2015 quarter.
  • Japan – down 10 percent ($94 million) to $805 million, following a 3 percent rise in the December 2015 quarter.

Goods trade deficit in March 2016 quarter

In the March 2016 quarter, the seasonally adjusted trade deficit was $944 million, equivalent to 7.9 percent of exports. In the December 2015 quarter the deficit was $1.2 billion (10 percent of exports).

 

 

Monthly exports fall 14 percent

In March 2016, goods exports were valued at $4.2 billion, down $701 million (14 percent) from March 2015.

 

 

Milk powder, butter, and cheese leads fall in exports

Milk powder, butter, and cheese (our largest export commodity group) fell $355 million (29 percent) to $861 million in March 2016 compared with March 2015. The fall was primarily led by a large fall in whole milk powder, down $234 million (42 percent), with quantity down 41 percent. Milk fats (including butter) fell $51 million (22 percent) and cheese fell $19 million (11 percent).

Ships, boats, and floating structures fell $218 million (98 percent) in March 2016. The fall was due to exporting a large drilling platform, worth $199 million, in March 2015. Excluding the drilling platform, overall exports fell $502 million (11 percent).

Meat and edible offal fell $169 million (21 percent) to $658 million in March 2016 compared with March 2015. March 2015 was the series peak. The fall was led by beef, down $102 million (28 percent), with the quantity exported down 25 percent. Beef exports to the USA fell $69 million (32 percent). Lamb exports fell this month, down $62 million (17 percent), with the quantity exported down 11 percent. Lamb exports to China fell $34 million (34 percent).

Fruit rose $45 million (44 percent) to $148 million, with quantity exported up 19 percent. The rise was led by gold kiwifruit, up $29 million, and royal gala apples, up $16 million.

Kiwifruit values may be revised after this release due to delayed shipments.

For March 2016, other key changes in commodity group export values were:

  • casein and caseinates – down $63 million (45 percent)
  • logs, wood, and wood articles – up $37 million (11 percent)
  • preparations of cereals, flour, and starch – up $33 million (46 percent).

Four of our top five export destinations fall in value

The monthly movements for New Zealand’s top export destinations (ranked by total annual exports) in March 2016 compared with March 2015 were:

  1. China – down $32 million (4.1 percent), due to falls in lamb, down $34 million, and milk powder, down $28 million. Partly offset by rises in rough wood and crustaceans.
  2. Australia – down $25 million (3.3 percent), primarily due to a fall in crude oil, down $34 million (82 percent). Food preparations for infant use rose $18 million.
  3. United States – down $89 million (15 percent), due to falls in beef, down $69 million (32 percent), and casein, down $35 million (79 percent).
  4. European Union (EU) – showed little change (down 0.2 percent). There were small rises and falls for a variety of commodities, such as lamb, down $9.6 million, and fruit, up $7.4 million.
  5. Japan – up $11 million (4.5 percent), led by a rise in fruit (up $18 million) and vegetables (up $5.3 million). Partly offset by a fall in aluminium articles (down $7.9 million).

Kiwifruit values for Japan may be revised after this release due to delayed shipments.

Monthly imports fall 3.7 percent

In March 2016, imported goods were valued at $4.1 billion, down $157 million (3.7 percent) from March 2015.

Capital goods lead the fall in monthly imports

Of the three main broad economic categories, capital and intermediate goods decreased in value, while consumption goods increased in value compared with March 2015.

Capital goods fell $151 million (16 percent), due to a fall in transport equipment (such as aircraft, buses, and goods vehicles), down $140 million (43 percent).

Intermediate goods fell $50 million (2.8 percent), due to a fall in crude oil. Intermediate goods other than crude oil showed little change. Of these other intermediate goods, increases in a range of commodities including parts and accessories of transport equipment (such as aircraft parts), up $17 million, wheat (up $13 million), and plastics (up $10 million), were offset by decreases in commodities such as fertilisers (down $62 million), soya bean and palm oil cake (down $14 million), and petroleum oils (other than crude), down $7 million.

Consumption goods rose $38 million (3.7 percent). This was led by food and beverages for household consumption, up $31 million, and non-durable consumer goods (such as essential oils and cosmetics, tobacco, and retail medicines), up $23 million, but offset by a fall in semi-durable goods (such as textiles and clothing), down $25 million.

In other categories of goods:

  • passenger motor cars increased $5.8 million (1.6 percent) to $367 million.
  • petrol and avgas was unchanged at $61 million.

Four of our top five import partners have decreases in March 2016

The monthly movements for March 2016 for our top import partners (ranked by total annual goods imports) were:

  • China – down $18 million (2.6 percent), led by clothing (down $26 million), computers (down $12 million), and fertilizers (down $7 million), but offset by rises in telephones and cellphones (up $17 million).
  • European Union – down $35 million (4.3 percent), led by buses (down $48 million), aircraft (down $46 million), and electrical machinery and equipment (down $9 million).
  • Australia – up $85 million (18 percent), led by rises in food preparations (up $25 million), crude oil (up $21 million), and wheat (up $13 million).
  • United States – down $68 million (14 percent), led by aircraft (down $20 million), motor vehicles (down $13 million), and fertilizers (down $11 million).
  • Japan – down $9.0 million (3.0 percent), led by motor vehicles (down $16 million).

Goods trade surplus in March 2016

In March 2016, there was a goods trade surplus of $117 million (2.8 percent of exports). This compares with an average surplus of 13 percent of exports for the previous five March months.

For the year ended March 2016, there was an annual trade deficit of $3.8 billion, the largest rolling annual trade deficit since April 2009. 

 

Exchange rate movements

The Reserve Bank’s trade weighted index (TWI) showed the New Zealand dollar was 0.2 percent lower in March 2016 than February 2016, and 7.8 percent lower than in March 2015.

Find data tables

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

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