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Fall in April Imports

Fall in April Imports

The provisional value of merchandise imports for April 2003 is $2,493 million, 10.0 percent lower than for April 2002 but 1.5 percent higher than April 2001, according to Statistics New Zealand. Trend figures indicate that the value of merchandise trade imports has declined 3.7 percent since August 2002, following a flat six-month period.

The New Zealand dollar was 13.8 percent higher in April 2003 than in April 2002, according to the trade weighted index. A higher exchange rate will generally cause a decrease in the price of imports when measured in New Zealand dollars.


The main commodities contributing to the lower imports value were crude oil and petroleum products, aircraft, and machinery and equipment. These were partly offset by higher values for imports of vehicles and fishing vessels.

Crude oil and petroleum products are imported at irregular intervals throughout the year and usually consist of large shipments. This can cause fluctuations in the value of imports from month to month. A total of 323,000 tonnes of crude oil with a value of $119 million were imported in April 2003 compared with 490,000 tonnes valued at $211 million in April 2002.

Similarly, the value recorded for aircraft can fluctuate when single aircraft with a high value are imported.

In April 2002, a Seasprite helicopter valued at more than $50 million was imported, raising the value of aircraft and parts imports for that month. Record numbers of used cars and high numbers of new cars resulted in April 2003 recording the highest value of imported cars for a calendar month.

A total of 15,968 used cars with a value of $115 million were imported during April 2003. In the year preceding April 2003, an average of 11,923 used cars with a total value of $94 million were imported each month.

The estimated value of merchandise exports for April 2003 is $2,510 million, resulting in an estimated surplus of $17 million (0.7 percent of exports) for the month. Most of the recent April trade balances have ranged from a deficit of 0.7 percent through to a surplus of 7.5 percent of exports.

For the year ending April 2003, the provisional value of merchandise imports is $31,894 million, 0.8 percent lower than for the year ending April 2002.

The estimated value of merchandise exports for the year ending April 2003 is $30,005 million, resulting in an estimated deficit of $1,889 million for the period. Updated and detailed merchandise export statistics will be released on 6 June 2003.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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