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Large Trade Deficit Indicated for January

Large Trade Deficit Indicated for January

The estimated merchandise trade deficit for January 2003 is $399 million, according to Statistics New Zealand. As a percentage of exports, the deficit, at 19.6 percent, is the largest January deficit since 1986. The value of both exports and imports is lower than for January 2002. Trend figures indicate that the value of merchandise imports has been relatively flat in recent months; however, the deficit has widened as a result of the falling exports trend.

The value of merchandise imports for January 2003 is $2,439 million, $84 million lower than in January 2002. The estimated value of merchandise exports for January 2003 is $222 million lower than January 2002, at $2,040 million. The New Zealand dollar rose against all our major trading partners' currencies. An appreciating dollar has a downward influence on domestic prices for both imports and exports. Lower import prices may lead to increased demand for imports.

For the year ending January 2003, the merchandise trade deficit is $1,451 million. This compares with a surplus of $610 million for the year ending January 2002 and a deficit of $1,369 million for the year ending January 2001.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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