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Overseas Merchandise Trade: November 2009
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  07 January 2010
Commentary

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

Exports

The value of merchandise exports for the month of November 2009 was $3.1 billion, down $614 million (16.7 percent) from November 2008. This is the sixth consecutive monthly fall in export values compared with the same month of the previous year.

The trend for total merchandise exports has been declining following the peak in October 2008 and is down 15.5 percent since then. This is the sharpest fall seen in the trend since the series began in 1988. The only larger fall in the exports trend was a 16.5 percent drop recorded over 25 months between mid-2001 and mid-2003. The level of the trend is now comparable to what it was in August 2007.

Most of the top 40 commodity categories and most of the top 20 countries, by country of destination, showed decreases in export values in November 2009 compared with November 2008. Key decreases and increases in exports by commodity and by country of destination were as follows:

By commodity:

  • Milk powder, butter, and cheese showed the largest decrease in November 2009, down $250 million (24.9 percent). This decline was led by unsweetened whole milk powder, down $81 million (22.3 percent), due to lower prices, with quantities exported up 48.0 percent. Large decreases were also recorded for natural milk constituents, down $62 million; unsalted butter, down $27 million; and sweetened skim milk, down $26 million.

 

 Graph, Milk Powder, Butter, and Cheese Exports, monthly values and quantities

 

  • Casein and caseinates was the second largest decrease, down $60 million (51.8 percent), a mainly price driven fall with quantities down 9.8 percent.
  • Mechanical machinery and equipment was down $52 million (29.2 percent), the next largest decrease, with falls across a wide range of commodities.
  • Meat and edible offal was down $40 million (11.7 percent) mainly due to a fall in frozen beef cuts.
  • Crude oil was the largest increase, up $86 million (88.7 percent), with quantities up more than double compared with November 2008. Crude oil export shipments can be irregular, which gives rise to large fluctuations in quantities and values.

 Graph, Crude Oil Exports, monthly values and quantities

  • There were a few other small increases, with the largest being precious metals, jewellery, and coins, up $15 million (24.2 percent); and wood pulp and waste paper, up $13 million (35.1 percent).

By country of destination:

  • The United States of America was the destination with the largest decrease in exports, down $227 million (46.7 percent). Significant falls occurred in milk powder, butter, and cheese, down $88 million (led by natural milk constituents); casein and caseinates, down $45 million; and meat and edible offal, down $28 million (led by frozen beef cuts).
  • Japan was the second largest decrease, down $149 million (43.5 percent). Significant contributions to this fall came from: logs, wood, and wood articles, down $32 million (led by pinus radiata logs); and aluminium, and aluminium articles, down $23 million (led by unwrought aluminium).
  • Saudi Arabia was the next largest decrease, down $36 million (52.1 percent), led by a $28 million fall in milk powder, butter, and cheese.
  • Australia was the destination with the largest increase in exports, up $68 million (8.3 percent), and Singapore was up $24 million (36.7 percent). Both increases were led by crude oil exports.

Imports

In the month of November 2009, merchandise imports were valued at $3.3 billion, down $938 million (22.0 percent) from November 2008. Excluding one-off imports, import values over each of the last seven months have fallen between 19.9 percent and 28.3 percent, when compared with the same month of the previous year.

The trend for total merchandise imports has been declining following the peak in August 2008 and is down 25.7 percent since then. The fall in the trend continues the longest period of decline and the largest fall seen since the series began in 1988, although the rate of decline has been easing in recent months. The level of the trend is now comparable to what it was in April 2005.

All of the main broad economic categories were down in November 2009 compared with November 2008, except for petrol and avgas, and passenger motor cars.

  • The intermediate goods category recorded the largest decrease, down $741 million (33.9 percent). Falls were widespread in this category, with crude oil, down $125 million (35.9 percent), being the largest, mainly due to lower prices. Other commodities showing significant declines included natural calcium phosphates (with quantities almost halved), fertilisers (with large decreases in both urea and potassium chloride), and automotive diesel.
  • Capital goods declined $226 million (29.4 percent). Mechanical machinery and equipment was the most notable contributor to this fall, with decreases across a wide range of commodities. Refrigerated vessels, tractors, and wind powered generators were also leading contributors.
  • Consumption goods were down $72 million (6.9 percent), with falls across most commodities. Some of the more notable decreases included soya-bean oil, medicaments, televisions, bicycles, motorcycles, and pleasure boats.
  • Passenger motor cars were the largest increase, up $74 million (46.9 percent) compared with November 2008, when the lowest November value since 1997 was recorded. This is the first rise following 13 months of falls compared with the same month of the previous year. Imports of new and used petrol cars with a rating exceeding 1000cc were up $71 million.
  • Petrol and avgas was the next largest increase, up $54 million (72.9 percent).
      

 Graph, Imports by Broad Economic Category, monthly values

In November 2009 compared with November 2008, import values declined across most of the top 40 commodity categories and most of the top 25 countries by country of origin.

By commodity:

  • Mechanical machinery and equipment was the largest fall, down $137 million (25.9 percent). There were falls across a wide range of commodities, with computer parts and accessories; diesel engines; and aircraft engine parts being notable contributors to the decrease.
  • Petroleum and products recorded the next largest decrease, down $130 million (21.4 percent). This fall was led by crude oil, down $125 million (35.9 percent); and automotive diesel, down $39 million, both mainly due to lower prices.
 

 Graph, Petroleum and Products Imports, monthly values

  • Salts, earths, stone, lime, and cement, down $128 million (84.0 percent); and electrical machinery and equipment, down $95 million (21.6 percent), were the next largest decreases.
  • By comparison, increases in imports were fewer and smaller, the largest being vehicles, parts, and accessories, up $16 million (4.9 percent); cocoa and cocoa preparations, up $9 million (50.6 percent); and cereals, up $8 million (59.9 percent).

By country of origin:

  • The United States of America recorded the largest decrease in imports, down $152 million (35.1 percent), led by falls in mechanical machinery and equipment, down $60 million; aircraft and parts, down $26 million; and vehicles, parts, and accessories, down $16 million.
  • China was the next largest fall, down $143 million (20.7 percent). The largest decrease came from ships, boats, and floating structures, down $42 million. Other commodities that contributed to the decline included salts, earths, stone, lime, and cement, down $16 million (driven by natural calcium phosphates); iron and steel, and articles, also down $16 million; and textiles and textile articles, down $9 million.
  • Imports of petroleum and products tend to be irregular, especially by country of origin. In November 2009, Qatar was down $121 million (69.3 percent), and the United Arab Emirates was up $23 million (295 percent), both led by crude oil; while Singapore was up $75 million (102 percent), led by petroleum and products other than crude.

Trade balance

In November 2009, the trade balance was a deficit of $269 million or 8.8 percent of the value of exports. This compares with an average November deficit of 27.6 percent of exports for the previous five years.

 Graph, Merchandise Trade Balance, monthly

The annual trade balance for the year ended November 2009 was a deficit of $846 million (2.1 percent of exports). This is the smallest annual deficit since September 2002 in dollar terms and as a percentage of exports, and is much lower than the average (16.3 percent of exports) for the preceding five November years.   

Three months ended November 2009

Exports of merchandise goods for the three months ended November 2009 were valued at $8.9 billion, a fall of $1.8 billion (17.1 percent) from the same period of the previous year.

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

By commodity:

  • Milk powder, butter, and cheese recorded the largest decrease, down $665 million (26.3 percent), with declines across a wide range of commodities. The most significant declines came from unsweetened whole milk powder (down $210 million), cheddar cheese (down $94 million) and natural milk constituents (down $72 million).
  • Casein and caseinates was the next largest decrease, down $128 million (45.0 percent), which was price driven with quantities up 2.1 percent.
  • Aluminium and aluminium articles, down $119 million (32.7 percent), and mechanical machinery and equipment, down $116 million (22.2 percent), were the next largest decreases.
  • By comparison, increases in exports for the latest three months were far fewer in number and much smaller. The largest offsetting increases were precious metals, jewellery, and coins, up $17 million (9.1 percent), and crude oil, up $8 million (1.7 percent).

By country of destination:

  • The United States was the destination with the largest decrease in exports, down $415 million (36.9 percent). Milk powder, butter, and cheese declined $121 million (led by natural milk constituents); casein and caseinates declined $99 million; and meat and edible offal declined $55 million (led by frozen beef cuts).
  • Japan, down $342 million (36.1 percent), was the second largest fall. Aluminium and aluminium articles declined $89 million (led by unwrought aluminium); milk powder, butter, and cheese, declined $68 million (led by cheese); and logs, wood, and wood articles declined $41 million, spread over several commodities.
  • Australia, down $144 million (5.5 percent), was the next largest decrease, led by crude oil, down $84 million; and iron and steel, and articles, down $39 million.
  • Singapore was the destination with the largest increase in exports, up $77 million (40.2 percent), mainly due to an increase in crude oil.
  • The People’s Republic of China showed the next largest increase, up $69 million (9.6 percent). Milk powder, butter, and cheese increased $63 million (led by unsweetened whole milk powder); and logs, wood, and wood articles increased $42 million (led by pinus radiata logs). These rises were partly offset by a $35 million fall in infant formula.

Imports of merchandise goods for the three months ended November 2009 were valued at $10.2 billion, down 24.7 percent from the same period of the previous year.

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

By commodity:

  • The petroleum and products category had the largest decrease, down $789 million (36.0 percent), which was led by crude oil, down $516 million (41.3 percent), largely due to lower prices, with quantity down 5.0 percent.
  • Mechanical machinery and equipment was the second largest decrease, down $452 million (28.0 percent), spread across several commodities, with gas turbine parts and accessories, earth moving machinery, computer parts and accessories, and spray equipment being leading contributors.
  • Iron and steel, and articles were the next largest decrease, down $295 million (53.4 percent).
  • Vehicles, parts, and accessories decreased $265 million (22.9 percent), led by goods transport vehicles, down $119 million; and tractors, down $64 million.
  • Aircraft and parts recorded the largest increase, up $128 million (62.6 percent), led by imports of large aircraft, up $143 million.

By country of origin:

  • Australia showed the largest decrease, down $384 million (16.2 percent), led by crude oil (down $118 million); with significant decreases in iron and steel, and articles (down $71 million); mechanical machinery and equipment (down $44 million); and inorganic chemicals (down $42 million).
  • Japan was the second largest decrease, down $366 million (34.2 percent), including automotive diesel (down $133 million); vehicles, parts, and accessories (down $72 million); mechanical machinery and equipment (down $50 million); and electrical machinery and equipment (also down $50 million).
  • China was the next largest decrease, down $341 million (17.1 percent), with falls across a wide range of commodities. The most significant fall came from iron and steel, and articles, down $53 million.
  • Indonesia was down $279 million (68.6 percent), led by crude oil, down $216 million.
  • The United Arab Emirates was the largest increase, up $31 million (22.1 percent), driven by partly refined petroleum (up $20 million) and crude oil (up $14 million).
  • Only two other countries in the top 25 showed increases for the last three months compared with the same period of last year; these were Switzerland, up $11 million (13.4 percent), and India, up $2 million (2.3 percent).

Exchange rate movements

According to the Reserve Bank's Trade Weighted Index (TWI), the New Zealand dollar was 1.9 percent lower in November 2009 compared with October 2009, and 13.6 percent higher compared with November 2008.

 Graph, Trade Weighted Index, monthly, base June 1979 (=100)

Updates to previous statistics

Provisional values published on 27 November 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: Henry Minish or Sarah Urlich; Christchurch (03) 964 8700.
Email: overseastrade@stats.govt.nz.

Next release...

Overseas Merchandise Trade: December 2009 will be released on 29 January 2010.

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