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Overseas Trade Indexes (Prices and Volumes): March 2017 quarter (provisional)
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  01 June 2017
Commentary

All comparisons are between the December 2016 and March 2017 quarters, and all volumes and values are seasonally adjusted, unless otherwise stated. All prices are unadjusted.

Overview for the March 2017 quarter

The merchandise (goods) terms of trade rose 5.1 percent in the March 2017 quarter, to reach its highest level since the June 1973 quarter. This increase is due to goods export prices rising more than goods import prices.

In the March 2017 quarter: 

  • total export prices for goods rose 8.0 percent, while import prices rose 2.7 percent
  • seasonally adjusted export volumes fell 4.2 percent, and import volumes rose 1.2 percent
  • the seasonally adjusted value of exports rose 3.4 percent (to $11.8 billion), and goods import values rose 6.2 percent (to $13.2 billion).

Terms of trade is a measure of the purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad. The latest rise means 5.1 percent more goods imports could be funded by a fixed quantity of goods exports than in the December 2016 quarter.

 Diagram, Goods imports and exports, March 2017 quarter compared with December 2016 quarter.

The services terms of trade rose 0.1 percent in the March 2017 quarter, with export and import prices rising 1.1 percent.

Diagram, Services imports and exports prices, March 2017 quarter compared with December 2016 quarter.

See definitions for more information on services.

Export prices and values up, while volumes fall

The 8.0 percent rise in export prices in the March 2017 quarter was mainly due to a rise in dairy product prices. This is the second consecutive quarter of big price rises for exports. Export prices are 13 percent higher than the recent low of September 2016, but are still 5.6 percent lower than the recent high of March 2014.

Excluding dairy, export prices rose 4.8 percent.

Seasonally adjusted export values were up 3.4 percent in the March 2017 quarter, following a 0.1 percent rise in the December 2016 quarter. Seasonally adjusted export volumes were down 4.2 percent, largely due to falls in dairy export volumes.

Graph, Exports price and volume indexes, and values, quarterly, March 2013 to March 2017.

Dairy prices and values rise, while volumes fall

Dairy prices rose 18 percent, with prices for milk powder up 20 percent, butter up 23 percent, and cheese up 8.8 percent. Dairy prices are 34 percent higher than the recent low of September 2016, but are still 21 percent lower than the March 2014 high. 

Dairy values rose 1.2 percent in the March 2017 quarter (to $3 billion), while the seasonally adjusted dairy export volumes fell 11 percent, to the lowest level since the September 2013 quarter.

Graph, Dairy export price and volume indexes, and values, quarterly, March 2013 to March 2017.

Forestry prices rise, while volumes and values fall

Prices for forestry products rose 11 percent in the March quarter, led by prices for wood (up 15 percent). Forestry products prices were at their highest level since the series began, and were 1.5 percent higher than the previous high in September 2000.

Seasonally adjusted forestry product volumes fell 6.1 percent, to their lowest level since the March 2012 quarter. Seasonally adjusted forestry product values fell 0.4 percent, to $1.3 billion.

Graph, Forestry export price and volume indexes, and values, quarterly, March 2013 to March 2017.

Other notable export movements

  • Wool prices fell 13 percent, values fell 19 percent, and volumes fell 11 percent.

Import prices, values, and volumes rise

Prices for imported goods rose 2.7 percent in the March 2017 quarter, influenced by price rises for petroleum and petroleum products, and electrical and mechanical machinery imports. Volumes rose 1.2 percent, while total import values rose 6.2 percent in the March 2017 quarter, to $13.2 billion.

Graph, Imports price and volume indexes, and values, quarterly, March 2013 to March 2017.

Petroleum and petroleum products import prices, volumes, and values rise

Petroleum and petroleum product prices, volumes, and values are not seasonally adjusted. The price for petroleum and petroleum products rose 11 percent in the March 2017 quarter, and 46 percent for the year to March 2017. Prices are still 17 percent lower than in the September 2015 quarter. Import volumes fell 1.2 percent in the March 2017 quarter, and values rose by 9.7 percent.

The Marsden Point refinery was shut down for three weeks in March 2017 for maintenance. See Refining NZ's announcement for more information.

Graph, Petroleum and petroleum products price and volume indexes, and values, quarterly, March 2013 to March 2017.

Looking at selected trading partners

The volumes and values in the following section are unadjusted, and compare the March 2017 quarter with the December 2016 quarter.

China

The terms of trade rose 5.3 percent.

  • Export prices rose 11 percent.
  • Import prices rose 5.6 percent.
  • Export volumes fell 12 percent and values fell 2.7 percent. Dairy led the fall in values, partly offset by an increase in lamb.
  • Import volumes fell 18 percent and values fell 14 percent.

Australia

The terms of trade rose 0.6 percent.

  • Export prices rose 2.6 percent.
  • Import prices rose 2.0 percent.
  • Export volumes fell 7.8 percent and values fell 5.3 percent. Wine led the fall in values. 
  • Import volumes fell 9.5 percent and values fell 7.6 percent.

United States

The terms of trade rose 0.5 percent.

  • Export prices rose 3.4 percent.
  • Import prices rose 2.9 percent.
  • Export volumes rose 8.7 percent and values rose 12 percent. Beef led the rise in values. 
  • Import volumes fell 21 percent and values fell 19 percent.

Japan

The terms of trade rose 2.4 percent.

  • Export prices rose 3.3 percent.
  • Import prices rose 0.9 percent.
  • Export volumes fell 6.4 percent and values fell 3.3 percent. Kiwifruit led the fall in values. 
  • Import volumes fell 4.2 percent and values fell 3.3 percent.

European Union (EU)

The terms of trade rose 2.7 percent.

  • Export prices rose 2.3 percent.
  • Import prices fell 0.4 percent.
  • Export volumes fell 24 percent and values fell 27 percent.
  • Import volumes fell 9.0 percent and values fell 9.3 percent.

Rest of the world

The rest of the world includes all countries other than the four above and EU countries.

The terms of trade rose 8.7 percent.

  • Export prices rose 15 percent.
  • Import prices rose 5.5 percent.
  • Export volumes fell 11 percent and values rose 2.7 percent.
  • Import volumes fell 8.7 percent and values fell 3.6 percent.

Prices rise for export and import of services

The services terms of trade rose 0.1 percent in the March 2017 quarter, with export and import prices both rising.

Prices for services exports rose 1.1 percent, led by travel (up 1.2 percent).

Prices for services imports also rose 1.1 percent, led by other services (up 1.1 percent) and transportation (up 2.1 percent).

Exchange-rate information

See DataInfo+ for exchange-rate information.

Exchange rates for March 2017 quarter

Reserve Bank of  New Zealand

  USA (NZ$:US$)   UK (NZ$:pound)  Australia (NZ$:A$) Japan (NZ$:yen)   Euro (NZ$:euro)  TWI
Change from December 2016 quarter (%)  0.0 0.3 -1.0 4.0 1.3 0.4

 

Exchange rates for March 2017 quarter

New Zealand Customs Service

  USA (NZ$:US$)   UK (NZ$:pound)  Australia (NZ$:A$) Japan (NZ$:yen)   Euro (NZ$:euro)  TWI
Change from December 2016 quarter (%)  -1.2 1.4 -0.4 7.4 2.6 1.1

Find data tables

For more detailed data about overseas trade indexes see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

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