Port strike hits exports
Auckland's waterfront industrial confrontation is hitting the country's overseas trade.
February merchandise trade data, out today, show a small monthly trade surplus of $161 million, slightly above the average market forecast of a $153 million surplus.
The annual balance is a surplus of $621 million, down from the previous 12 months' surplus of $765 million.
Experts fell $267 million, a fall Statistics New Zealand says is likely to be caused by the stand-off between the Ports of Auckland and the Maritime Union of New Zealand.
"Anecdotal evidence...suggests that industrial disputes may have had an impact, due to delays in the loading of some goods," says industry and labour statistics manager Neil Kelly.
"It is not possible to quantity these effects, but they may become more apparent when the March 2012 data become available."
The trend for the value of exports, however, remains high - excluding one-off capital items, it is up 23% since the low-point in September 2009, but is still 7.7% below the peak in September 2008.
Exports of the always-volatile category of crude oil fell the furtherest, down $107 million (53%). Other falls were aluminum articles, down $79 million (74%) and milk powder, butter and cheese, down $59 million (6.1%).
Imports were also down, again partly due to the dispute, but also because no-one appears to have bought a boat or a plane in the last month. The February import figures spiked unusually highly because of the importation of aircraft.
Imports of capital goods are down, largely due to the aircraft import last month, but imports of plant and machinery are up, by 15%, mostly due to the importation of borers and drilling equipment for offshore oil exploration.
Intermediate goods imports fell $125 million ( 7.2%) mostly due to drops in fuel imports, and consumption goods also fell, by $42 million (4.7%), mostly due to drops in imports of medicine and clothing.