Trade surplus trend continues

New Zealand recorded its third consecutive quarterly, seasonally adjusted trade surplus, with imports falling slightly more than exports.

Figures from Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) today put the seasonally adjusted trade surplus for the September quarter at $378 million, equivalent to 3.5 percent of exports.

Before the seasonally adjusted trade balance went into surplus in the March quarter, the previous surplus had been in December 2001.

For just the month of September, the country recorded an actual trade deficit of $532m, or 17 percent of exports, compared with an average deficit of 28 percent over the preceding five September months, which are typically deficits.

The annual trade balance for the September year was a surplus of $921m, or 2.2 percent of exports, compared with an average deficit of 14 percent over the preceding five September years, SNZ said.

Exports in September were valued at $3.2 billion, up $335m or 12 percent from a year earlier.

Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports recorded the largest increase, rising $243m or 56 percent from a year earlier.

A rise in exports of pleasure boats led the $42m or 403 percent increase in the export of ships, boats and floating structures in September.

The third largest increase in exports for September was a $22m or 34 percent rise in precious metals, jewellery and coins, led by a rise in non-monetary gold.

The largest fall in exports last month was in crude oil, which fell $45m or 21 percent, due to lower quantities, SNZ said.

Meat and edible offal products exports dropped $25m or 10 percent from a year earlier, driven by a fall in frozen lamb cuts with bone in.

Imports for September were up $306m or 9.1 percent from a year earlier to $3.7b.

The largest rise in imports for the month was recorded by vehicles, parts, and accessories, up $173m or 74 percent, with passenger cars up $99m or 65 percent, and goods vehicles up $50m or 271 percent.

For the year, exports rose $208m or 0.5 percent to $41.8b, while imports were down $2.4b or 5.5 percent to $40.9b.

The seasonally adjusted quarterly figures showed exports down 2.5 percent from the June quarter to $10.8b, while imports fell 3.1 percent to $10.4b.

The quarterly fall in exports was the first decline since the December quarter and followed rises of 11 percent and 6.1 percent in the March and June 2010 quarters, respectively.

Meat and edible offal product exports fell 23 percent or $310m for the quarter, with quantities down 19 percent.

Crude oil exports, which are not seasonally adjusted, fell 13 percent or $73m over the quarter, while exports of logs, wood and wood articles fell 9.2 percent or $70m in the first quarterly fall since March 2009 as quantities fell 3 percent.

Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports were up 4.8 percent or $130m in the quarter, passing the previous high recorded in the June 2010 quarter.