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Largest annual goods trade deficit in seven years
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  27 April 2016

Overseas Merchandise Trade: March 2016  –  Media Release

The annual trade balance for March 2016 was a deficit of $3.8 billion, the largest annual trade deficit since April 2009, Statistics New Zealand said today.

“The large annual trade deficit is a result of falls in the value of primary produce exports,” senior manager Nicola Growden said. “Alongside consistent falls in the value of milk powder, values of beef and lamb have fallen in recent months.”

The seasonally adjusted value of exported goods fell 1.2 percent ($145 million) to $11.9 billion in the March 2016 quarter.

The seasonally adjusted value of imports fell 3.2 percent ($426 million) to $12.8 billion. Excluding large capital imports, the seasonally adjusted value of imported goods fell 1.2 percent.

The value of meat and edible offal exports fell 17 percent ($300 million) in the March 2016 quarter compared with the December 2015 quarter. The milk powder, butter, and cheese value fell 6.4 percent ($181 million).

March month

In the March 2016 month, the value of exported goods fell 14 percent, down $701 million from March 2015. The fall was led by milk powder, down 42 percent, with quantity down 41 percent.

A large drilling platform worth $199 million that was exported in March 2015 contributed to the fall in export values this month. Other key movements were a $63 million fall in casein and caseinates (down 45 percent), and a $37 million rise in logs, wood, and wood articles (up 11 percent).

In March 2016, beef exports fell $102 million, with quantity down 25 percent. Lamb exports saw a fall, down 17 percent, with quantities falling 11 percent.

Meat export values and quantities were high at the beginning of the 2015/16 meat export season, but began falling in December 2015. In March 2016, beef exports fell to the USA, down 32 percent, and lamb exports fell to China, down 34 percent.

Despite large falls in our top export commodity groups, the trade balance for the March 2016 month was a surplus of $117 million (2.8 percent of exports), a smaller surplus than in March 2015.

This release focuses on our goods trade. Goods made up 71 percent of total goods and services and 75 percent of total imports for the year ended December 2015. Goods and Services Trade by Country: Year ended March 2016 will be available on 1 June 2016.

Ends   

For media enquiries contact: Stuart Jones, Christchurch, 03 964 8700, info@stats.govt.nz
Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 27 April 2016

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