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Overseas Merchandise Trade: November 2011
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  09 January 2012
Commentary

Overview – exports and imports rise

In the November 2011 month compared with the November 2010 month, the value of exported goods increased $251 million (6.8 percent) to $3.9 billion. Imported goods rose $382 million (10 percent) to $4.2 billion.

For the November 2011 month compared with the October 2011 month, the seasonally adjusted value of exports fell, while imports showed little change.

The trend value for exports remains at record-high levels, but has been flattening since March 2011. The trend value for imports (excluding one-off capital items) is up 24 percent since its most recent low point in September 2009, but is still 7.5 percent below its overall peak in September 2008.

There was a trade deficit of $308 million, or 7.9 percent of the exports value, in the November 2011 month.

Exports up 6.8 percent in November 2011

In the November 2011 month, merchandise exports were valued at $3.9 billion, up $251 million (6.8 percent) from November 2010.

Increase in exports driven by milk powder

Milk powder, butter, and cheese, New Zealand’s largest export commodity, increased $188 million (19 percent) in November 2011 compared to November 2010. The increase was led by unsweetened whole milk powder, up $135 million (34 percent). Skimmed milk powder increased $27 million (19 percent). The increase in milk powder, butter, and cheese exports led to large changes in the value of exports to Algeria, Venezuela, and Egypt (see later country discussion).

Graph, Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports, monthly values and quantities, September 2009 to November 2011. Graph, Fruit exports, monthly values and quantities, September 2009 to November 2011.

By commodity group, the value of exports in November 2011, compared with November 2010, rose (in order of significance) for:

  • fruit, up $27 million (87 percent), due to green kiwifruit (up $18 million) and avocados (up $9.1 million)
  • electrical machinery and equipment, up $25 million (27 percent), led by electrical panels and switchboards
  • petroleum and products other than crude oil, up $20 million, due to exports of partly-refined petroleum.

Crude oil recorded the largest decrease, down $50 million (29 percent), due to lower quantities being exported.

Meat and edible offal, New Zealand’s second-largest export commodity, fell $18 million (5.4 percent). The decrease was led by lamb cuts with bone-in, down $12 million (9.5 percent).

Exports to Japan recorded the largest increase

By country of destination, the value of exports in November 2011, compared with November 2010, rose for:
  • Japan, up $45 million (20 percent); a major contributor was an increase in green kiwifruit exports
  • Algeria, up $40 million, due to increases in unsweetened whole milk powder
  • Venezuela, up $33 million (59 percent), due to increases in unsweetened whole milk powder
  • Egypt, up $26 million, led by unsalted butter
  • India, up $26 million (28 percent), led by pinus radiata logs.

Australia, New Zealand’s largest trading partner, recorded an $11 million increase (1.2 percent) in the value of exports. Increases in partly refined petroleum and mechanical machinery and equipment were partly offset by a fall in crude oil.

The People’s Republic of China, the second-largest trading partner, showed an $11 million increase (2.5 percent) in the value of exports. Two-thirds of commodities exported recorded an increase, which was partly-offset by a decrease in the value of pinus radiata logs.

Thailand recorded the largest decrease, down $19 million (20 percent). The decrease was due to crude oil exports, down $17 million, and milk powder, butter, and cheese, down $8.4 million (14 percent).

Imports up 10 percent in November 2011

In the November 2011 month, merchandise imports were valued at $4.2 billion, up $382 million (10 percent) from November 2010.

Increase in imports driven by intermediate goods and capital goods

Of the three main broad economic categories, intermediate and capital goods increased in value, while consumption goods recorded little change in November 2011 compared with November 2010.

Graph, Imports by broad economic category, monthly values, September 2005 to November 2011.  
Intermediate goods had the largest increase in value, up $232 million (14 percent). The increase was led by:

  • crude oil, up $115 million (49 percent), with prices 31 percent higher in November 2011 compared to November 2010. Crude oil and other petroleum products are imported in large, irregular shipments, which can cause large percentage fluctuations
  • processed industrial supplies, up $96 million (11 percent), mainly due to an increase in fertilisers
  • parts and accessories of transport equipment, up $19 million (14 percent).

Capital goods rose $86 million (13 percent). The rise in capital goods was driven by machinery and plant, up $104 million (18 percent), largely due to increases in electric generating sets and mobile phones. Transport equipment partly offset the rise in capital goods, down $19 million (21 percent).

Consumption goods increased by only $12 million (1.1 percent). Non-durable consumption goods drove the increase, up $19 million (7.0 percent), led by insecticides and herbicides. A decline in durable consumption goods, down $7 million (3.5 percent) partly offset this increase, led by falls in hand-held digital cameras and larger televisions.

In other categories of goods, passenger motor vehicles, and petrol and avgas increased as follows:

  • passenger motor cars, up $36 million (14 percent). Petrol cars with an engine capacity of 1500–3000cc recorded the largest increase
  • petrol and avgas, up $12 million (9.3 percent), led by regular motor spirit. 

Key movements in commodity import values

By commodity group, the value of imports in November 2011, compared with November 2010, rose (in order of significance) for:

  • petroleum and products, up $150 million (34 percent), led by an increase in crude oil imports, up $115 million (49 percent). Regular motor spirit, up $49 million, and road surfacing bitumen, up $23 million also made notable contributions to the increase.

Graph, Petroleum and products imports, monthly values, September 2005 to November 2011.  

  • fertilisers, up $73 million (108 percent). Imports of urea increased $51 million, with quantities more than double and prices 53 percent higher. A smaller increase in diammonium phosphate was recorded, up $21 million
  • electrical machinery and equipment, up $57 million (14 percent), led by mobile telephones, up $38 million, and electric generating sets, up $32 million 
  • mechanical machinery and equipment, up $32 million (6.7 percent), over a range of commodities.
  • vehicles, parts, and accessories, up $30 million (7.4 percent), led by increases in 1500–3000cc and 1000–1500cc petrol cars, along with an increase in four-wheeled farm bikes. A decline in imports of goods transport vehicles, down $13 million, partly offset the increase.

Sugars and sugar confectionery, down $13 million (35 percent), and salt, earths, stone, lime, and cement, down $11 million (27 percent) recorded the largest declines in import values.

Imports from China lead country increases

By country of origin, the value of imports in November 2011, compared with November 2010, rose (in order of significance) for:

  • China, up $91 million (13 percent), led by imports of mobile telephones, up $32 million, and fertilisers, up $23 million
  • Qatar, up $83 million, due to imports of crude oil and urea
  • Japan, up $82 million (31 percent), driven by imports of passenger motor vehicles and regular motor spirit
  • Indonesia, up $50 million (81 percent). This increase was driven by an increase in crude oil, up $50 million, with a $14 million increase in urea, offset by a similar decline in palm-oil cake
  • Saudi Arabia, up $45 million (62 percent) led by urea, up $30 million, and crude oil, up $14 million
  • The Republic of Korea, up $43 million (39 percent) led by an increase in imports of petrol and automotive diesel. A smaller increase in imports of rail coaches also contributed to the rise
  • Hungary, up $42 million, driven by an increase in imports of electric generating sets. (Imports of electric generating sets from Hungary which were previously reported in October’s provisional trade statistics have now been moved into the November month)
  • Brunei Darussalam, and the United Arab Emirates, up $39 million (70 percent) and $34 million respectively, driven by crude oil imports.

By country of origin, the value of imports in November 2011, compared with November 2010, fell (in order of significance) for:

  • Singapore, down $84 million (43 percent), driven by falls in regular motor spirit and automotive diesel
  • Oman, down $81 million, due to no crude oil imports from Oman in November 2011.

November 2011 trade balance in deficit

In the November 2011 month, there was a trade deficit of $308 million (7.9 percent of exports). This compares with an average deficit of 16 percent of exports over the previous five November months. The trend for the monthly trade balance has been in surplus since early 2010.

 Graph, Merchandise trade balance, monthly, September 2005 to November 2011.
For the November 2011 year, there was an annual trade surplus of $555 million (1.2 percent of exports). This compares with an average deficit of 9.0 percent of exports over the previous five November years, although there was a surplus recorded in the November 2010 year ($1.4 billion or 3.2 percent of exports).

Seasonally adjusted exports fall 4.6 percent in November 2011

The seasonally adjusted value of exported goods decreased 4.6 percent ($189 million) to $3.9 billion in November 2011. This follows a 5.3 percent increase in October 2011.

The trend for goods exported, which reflects the long-term behaviour in export values, has increased 27 percent since the most recent low point in October 2009. Although flattening since March 2011, the trend in exports remains at record-high levels.

Graph, Merchandise export values, monthly, September 2005 to November 2011.

Increase in milk powder, butter, and cheese offset by falls in other commodities

Seasonally adjusted milk powder, butter, and cheese exports increased 12 percent ($109 million) in November 2011. This follows a 5.8 percent ($55 million) decrease in October 2011.

In November 2011 compared with October 2011, these export commodities had significant movements in value:

  • Meat and edible offal decreased 12 percent ($57 million). This is the second consecutive monthly decrease.
  • Crude oil decreased 31 percent ($57 million). It is not possible to seasonally adjust crude oil exports separately as it does not have a stable seasonal pattern.
  • Ships, boats and floating structures decreased 66 percent ($19 million), due to fishing vessels exported in October 2011. This category fluctuates in value and is not seasonally adjusted.
  • Fruit recorded the second-largest increase, up 50 percent ($66 million).
  • Fish, crustaceans and molluscs were the only other significant increase, up 16 percent ($18 million).

Graph, Indexed export trend values by leading commodity groupings, monthly, September 2005 to November 2011.
Since the most recent low point in October 2009, the trend for: 

  • milk powder, butter, and cheese has increased 58 percent and is 4.0 percent below its peak in April 2011
  • meat and edible offal has increased 18 percent and remains at a high level
  • logs, wood, and wood articles has increased 22 percent but been declining since March 2011.

Fruit has increased strongly since April 2011, although the trend is heavily influenced by its high value this month.

Seasonally adjusted imports showed little change in November 2011

The seasonally adjusted value of imported goods showed little change in November 2011, up 0.2 percent ($8.7 million) to $3.9 billion. This follows a decrease of 2.8 percent in October 2011.

The trend for import values (excluding one-off capital items) is up 24 percent since its most recent low point in September 2009. However, it is still 7.5 percent below its overall peak in September 2008.

Graph, Merchandise import values, monthly, September 2005 to November 2011.

Excluding petroleum and products, and one-off capital items, the trend for imports has been mainly increasing since September 2009 (up 21 percent). However, it is still 5.3 percent lower than October 2008.

Seasonally adjusted electrical machinery increased while petroleum decreased

In November 2011 compared to October 2011, these import commodities had significant movements in value:

  • Electrical machinery and equipment had the largest increase, up 14 percent ($44 million). This follows a 3.7 percent ($11 million) increase in October 2011.
  • Food residues, waste and fodder increased 49 percent ($24 million) and fertilisers increased 16 percent ($20 million). These commodity groups are not seasonally adjusted, but had relatively higher increases than normal in November.
  • Textiles and textile articles increased 3.8 percent ($6.7 million).
  • Petroleum and products recorded the largest decrease, down 6.4 percent ($41 million). Petroleum and products are not seasonally adjusted.
  • Mechanical machinery and equipment decreased 2.3 percent ($12 million).

Since the most recent low point in September 2009, the trend for: 

  • petroleum and products, the largest import commodity group (see table 6), has increased 34 percent. This group does not have stable seasonality so cannot be calculated separately. However, this change can be inferred by comparing the trend in total imports with imports excluding petroleum and products
  • mechanical machinery and equipment, the second-largest commodity group, has increased 28 percent. The trend was especially strong in mid-2010
  • electrical machinery and equipment has increased 10 percent.

Exchange rate movements

According to the Reserve Bank’s Trade Weighted Index (TWI), the New Zealand dollar was 1.6 percent lower in November 2011 than in October 2011, and 1.0 percent lower than in November 2010.

Graph, Trade weighted index, monthly, September 2005 to November 2011.

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

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