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Overseas Merchandise Trade (Imports): January 2000

Overseas Merchandise Trade (Imports): January 2000

Volatility In Imports Obscures Trend

Figures released today by Statistics New Zealand show the provisional value of merchandise imports was $1,780 million for the month of January 2000. Import values are normally low in January, averaging $1,675 million over the last five years. The value for January 1999 was $1,792 million.

This month's value follows particularly high import values recorded in the latter part of 1999, especially $2,834 million for November 1999 and $3,147 million for December 1999. These high values include the frigate HMNZS Te Mana, passenger aircraft and higher priced petroleum imports. They may also include some earlier importing, in anticipation of Y2K problems, which would have a downward effect on January imports.

These factors make it difficult to determine whether the low value for January 2000 represents a temporary deviation from the strongly increasing imports trend or the beginning of a slowing down in imports growth.

Compared with the previous January year, the main contributor to the growth in imports for the year ended January 2000 was intermediate goods followed by capital goods, military and miscellaneous goods, consumption goods and passenger motor vehicles. Intermediate goods are goods that are consumed or transformed in production processes.

The preliminary estimate for January 2000 merchandise exports is $1,780 million which is exactly in balance with merchandise imports. During the last ten years the January trade balance has varied from a deficit of $251 million, recorded for January 1999, to a surplus of $95 million. Detailed statistics for January 2000 exports will be released on 9 March 2000.

Len Cook

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