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Economy in Brief

New Zealand Trade Deficit Diminishes as Gains in Dairy Exports Help Offset Petroleum Imports
by Carol Stone May 25, 2006

New Zealand's trade balance improved in April, according to data reported this morning in Wellington by Statistics New Zealand. Markets and analysts focus on rolling 12-month totals for New Zealand, and the trade deficit on that basis narrowed to NZ$6.90 billion for the year ended April from NZ$7.05 billion in March. The April figure was the smallest deficit this year although much wider than the NZ$4.30 billion of April 2005.

As evident in both the graph and the table below, cumulative exports are little changed over the last year, but imports are up some 7.7%. Petroleum accounts for a big part of this: the value of those imports has increased by nearly 26%. The largest single import item is vehicles, and these purchases have actually decreased from a year ago, to NZ$5.15 billion from NZ$5.52 billion.

New Zealand is largely a service and agricultural economy. The trade balance improvement, which started in March, owes mainly to gains in dairy product exports: milk powder, butter and cheese. These had an aggregate total of NZ$5.48 billion in April compared with NZ$5.04 billion a year ago. Machinery, aluminum and beverage exports also rose.

These data, all from Statistics New Zealand, are contained in Haver's ANZ database, along with our Australia data offerings. This database includes only series that come from the countries' own data sources. For some major countries that do not seasonally adjust certain data, Haver performs that procedure; these supplemental data are contained in the database G10. This latter collection includes key data summaries for 22 countries, the Euro-Zone and several regional groupings. For New Zealand, Haver's calculations show the trade deficit for the month of April alone was NZ$217 million, the smallest since NZ$173 million in January 2005. The reduction from March in the seasonally adjusted deficit from NZ$380 million consisted of a slim NZ$32 million decrease in exports and a more significant NZ$197 million drop in imports.

New Zealand, NZ$ Apr 2006 Mar 2006 Feb 2006 Apr 2005 2005 2004 2003
12-Month Totals (Bil): Trade Balance -6.90 -7.05 -7.32 -4.30 -6.46 -4.20 -3.38
Exports 31.33 31.10 30.71 31.20 30.82 30.71 28.40
Imports 38.22 38.16 38.03 35.50 37.27 34.91 31.78
Individual Months, SA* (Mil): Trade Balance -217 -380 -772 -368 Monthly Averages
-539 -350 -282
Exports 2852 2886 2600 2643 2568 2560 2366
Imports 3069 3266 3372 3011 3107 2910 2648
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