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Overseas Merchandise Trade: October 2013
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  27 November 2013
Commentary

All comparisons are between October 2013 and October 2012, unless otherwise stated.

Exports rise 23 percent

In October 2013, the value of goods exported was $4.2 billion, up $783 million (23 percent) from October 2012. This is the highest value of goods exported for any October month, and coincides with the highest-ever level of exports to China for any month.

Rise in exports due to milk powder

Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports increased $690 million (85 percent) to $1.5 billion in October 2013, while quantities increased 22 percent. The average value of milk powder, butter, and cheese exports over the previous five October months was $529 million. The rise was due to milk powder export values increasing $626 million (133 percent), while quantities increased 42 percent.

Graph, Milk powder, butter, and cheese, monthly values and quantities, September 2007 to October 2013.    Graph, Crude oil exports, monthly values and quantities, September 2007 to October 2013.

Other key changes in commodity group export values, for October 2013:

  • logs, wood, and wood articles rose $77 million (26 percent), due to pine logs
  • aluminium and aluminium articles rose $76 million (180 percent), due to unwrought aluminium
  • casein and caseinates rose $27 million (39 percent), due to casein.

Crude oil had the largest offsetting decrease, down $82 million (62 percent).

Australia our top export destination for October 2013 year

Exports to China exceeded exports to Australia for the first month since March 2013, and only the fourth month ever.  However, Australia remains our top export destination for the year ended October 2013. 

The movements for our top five export destinations (ranked by total annual exports) were:

  • Australia – down $118 million (13 percent) to $794 million, led by crude oil
  • China – up $604 million (133 percent) to $1.1 billion, led by whole milk powder, and pine logs
  • United States – up $33 million (12 percent) to $311 million, across a range of commodities
  • Japan – up $68 million (34 percent) to $269 million, due to unwrought aluminium
  • Korea – up $17 million (15 percent) to $127 million, across a range of commodities.

In the 12 months ended October 2013, our top five export partners accounted for $26.7 billion (57 percent) of total goods exported. This is up $1.2 billion (4.7 percent) from the October 2012 year.

Other significant export movements in the October 2013 month were seen for:

  • Philippines – up $42 million (85 percent) led by skimmed milk powder
  • United Arab Emirates – up $35 million (78 percent) led by whole milk powder
  • Venezuela – up $34 million (400 percent), due to whole milk powder. 

Imports rise 5.7 percent

In October 2013, imported goods were valued at $4.4 billion, up $237 million (5.7 percent) from October 2012. This is the highest value of goods imported for an October month since 2008.

Intermediate goods show the largest increase

The value of all three main economic categories – intermediate goods, consumption goods, and capital goods – rose.

Graph, Imports by broad economic catogory, monthly values, September 2007 to October 2013.

Intermediate goods rose $93 million (4.9 percent), led by urea, steel tubing, and aluminium oxide.

Consumption goods rose $37 million (3.4 percent), led by furniture.

Capital goods rose $4.4 million (0.6 percent).

In other categories of goods:

  • passenger motor cars rose $73 million (25 percent), led by petrol motor cars with an engine capacity of 1500–3000cc
  • petrol and avgas rose $14 million (15 percent), due to premium motor spirit.

Key movements in commodity import values

By commodity group, the value of imports rose for:

  • vehicles, parts, and accessories – up $86 million (19 percent), led by petrol motor cars with an engine capacity of 1500–3000cc
  • mechanical machinery and equipment – up $58 million (12 percent), led by parts for turbo jets and propellers, and pulp and paper machinery
  • petroleum and products – up $39 million (6.1 percent), led by diesel, and premium motor spirit
  • fertilisers – up $26 million (52 percent), led by urea.

Electrical machinery and equipment was the largest offsetting decrease, down $33 million (8.0 percent), due to electrical convertors.

China our top import partner for October 2013 year

The movements for our top five import partners (ranked by total annual imports) were:

  1. China – up $67 million (9.2 percent) to $797 million, led by fertilisers
  2. Australia – down $12 million (1.9 percent) to $613 million, across a range of commodities
  3. United States – up $41 million (11 percent) to $408 million, over a range of commodities
  4. Japan – up $38 million (14 percent) to $307 million, led by used petrol motor cars
  5. Malaysia – up $81 million (54 percent) to $229 million, due to crude oil.

For the 12 months ended October 2013, our top five import partners accounted for $24.5 billion (51 percent) of total goods imported. This is up $158 million (0.6 percent) from the October 2012 year.

Other significant import movements for the October month were seen for:

  • Kuwait up $101 million, and Russia up $46 million, due to crude oil
  • Oman down $105 million, Saudi Arabia down $92 million, and Brunei down $58 million, due to crude oil
  • Singapore up $71 million, led by premium motor spirit, and diesel
  • Israel, down $44 million (82 percent), due to electric convertors.

Trade deficit in October 2013

In October 2013, there was a trade deficit of $168 million (4.0 percent of exports), the lowest since 1996. This compares with an average deficit of  $531 million (15 percent of exports) over the previous five October months. Over the last 50 years October months have always been a trade deficit.

Graph, Merchandise trade balance, monthly, September 2007 to October 2013.

For the October 2013 year, there was an annual trade deficit of $1.0 billion (2.1 percent of exports). Eight of the last 10 October years were trade deficits. The surpluses were in the October 2010 and October 2011 years.

Seasonally adjusted exports fall 8.2 percent

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the value of exported goods fell 8.2 percent ($362 million) in October 2013, compared with September 2013. This follows a 14 percent increase in September 2013. The fall in October was led by crude oil exports (which does not have a seasonal pattern) as quantities fell 79 percent to 48,000 tonnes. This followed a high in September, when crude oil exports rose to 228,000 tonnes, the highest level since March 2010. The average quantity of crude oil exports over the preceding five months was 126,000 tonnes.

The trend value for merchandise exports continues to rise, and is now 5.2 percent above the most recent low point in March 2013.
 

Graph, Merchandise export values, monthly, September 2007 to October 2013.

Change in seasonally adjusted exports values

Compared with September 2013, crude oil (not seasonally adjusted) fell 80 percent ($200 million), with quantities down 79 percent.

Fruit exports fell 22 percent ($29 million) compared with a 17 percent increase September 2013.

Electrical machinery and equipment fell 9.0 percent ($7.8 million), compared with a 7.5 percent fall in September.

Meat and edible offal increased the most of all seasonally adjusted exports, up 5.5 percent ($25 million), compared with the 6.4 percent rise in September.

Milk powder, butter, and cheese increased 3.9 percent ($51 million), compared with a 29 percent increase in the September.

Aluminium and aluminium articles (not seasonally adjusted), increased 236 percent ($83 million).

Trend for exports of logs, wood, and wood articles continues to rise

Logs, wood, and wood articles are at record levels, 45 percent higher than its most recent low point in February 2012.

Recent trends for the values of other leading commodity groups show that:

  • milk powder, butter, and cheese is 32 percent higher than its previous high in August 2012
  • meat and edible offal is 0.7 percent higher than its most recent high point in September 2012
  • fruit is 2.8 percent higher than the most recent low in January 2013.
     

 Graph, Indexed export trend values by leading commodity groupings, monthly, September 2007 to October 2013.

Seasonally adjusted imports rise 0.1 percent

Seasonally adjusted imports rose 0.1 percent ($2.8 million) to $3.9 billion in October 2013, compared with September 2013. This follows an 8.5 percent ($365 million) decrease in September 2013. Excluding petroleum and products, seasonally adjusted imports fell 2.2 percent in October 2013.

The trend for import values has been increasing in recent months, but appears to be flattening.

Graph, Merchandise import values, monthly, September 2007 to October 2013.

Exchange rate movements

According to the Reserve Bank’s trade weighted index, the New Zealand dollar was 1.3 percent higher in October 2013 than in September 2013, and 5.6 percent higher than in October 2012.

Graph, Trade weighted index, monthly, September 2007 to October 2013.

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

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