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Trade Deficit Grows

Trade Deficit Grows

Latest figures from Statistics New Zealand show an increase in merchandise exports of 0.9 per cent in the December quarter 1999, after removal of seasonal factors. This follows an increase of 9.9 per cent in the previous quarter. However, during the last year, merchandise exports have grown at less than a third of the rate recorded for merchandise imports. This has impacted on the merchandise trade balance which, for the year ended December 1999, is a deficit of $3,603 million. As a proportion of the value of merchandise exports this is the largest annual deficit recorded since the year ended December 1976.

For December 1999, provisional unadjusted merchandise exports were $2,054 million. The underlying monthly trend has been rising continuously since December 1995. The value of exports in the December 1999 quarter was 8.4 per cent higher than a year earlier.

Seasonally adjusted exports of many major commodities including milk powder, butter and cheese; and meat and edible offal showed recovery in the September and December quarters of 1999 after decreasing in the June quarter 1999. Fish and wool decreased in value in the December quarter 1999. The quarterly trend value for exports of wood and wood products has risen for the last six consecutive quarters.

The monthly trend in the merchandise trade balance shows a deficit which has been growing since November 1998. The provisional unadjusted balance for December 1999 was a deficit of $1,098 million. Without the new frigate HMNZS Te Mana the deficit was $467 million. For the 1990s, the average trade balance for the December months was a deficit of $45 million.

Len Cook

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