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Quarterly Import Values Continue to Decline

Quarterly Import Values Continue to Decline

The seasonally adjusted value of imports decreased 2.2 percent in the March 2003 quarter, according to figures released today by Statistics New Zealand. This followed a decline of 2.5 percent in the December 2002 quarter. The main contributors to the fall in the March 2003 quarter were declines in value for capital goods, intermediate goods and passenger motor cars. These were partly offset by an increase in value for petrol and avgas, while the value of consumption goods showed little change. The value of the New Zealand dollar, as measured by the trade weighted index (TWI), appreciated 7.2 percent over the same period. A higher exchange rate will generally cause a decrease in the price of imports when measured in New Zealand dollars.

Quarterly trend figures indicate that imports have been in decline since a turning point in the September 2002 quarter, following a small increase in early 2002.

The provisional value of merchandise imports for the March 2003 month is $2,444 million, 1.9 percent lower than in March 2002. The main contributors to the lower value were vehicles, including parts and accessories; and mechanical machinery and equipment. These were partly offset by a higher value for crude oil and petrol, which are imported at irregular intervals throughout the year. While the total annual quantity of crude oil imports generally remains constant, fluctuations in price can alter the total value of imports significantly.

The estimated value of merchandise exports for March 2003 is $2,790 million, resulting in a surplus of $346 million for the month. Trade surpluses are usual for a March month.

Detailed exports statistics will be released on 9 May 2003.

The value of merchandise imports for the year ended March 2003 is $32,137 million, an increase of 1.0 percent from the March 2002 year. The estimated value of merchandise exports for the same period is $30,285 million. The resulting year ended March 2003 trade deficit is $1,851 million.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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