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Higher than Normal October Trade Deficit

Higher than Normal October Trade Deficit

The estimated value of the merchandise trade deficit is $701 million or 30.2 percent of exports, according to Statistics New Zealand. Trade deficits have always been recorded in October months; however, this is the highest October trade deficit, as a percentage of exports, since October 1989. The provisional value of imports for October 2003 is $3,021 million, 4.7 percent lower than in October 2002. The estimated value of merchandise exports for October 2003 is $2,320 million.

The underlying trend for the value of merchandise imports has been relatively flat since the second half of 2000. Over the same period, the New Zealand dollar, as measured by trade weighted index, has generally appreciated against all our major trading partners, exerting a downward influence on import prices.

The main contributors to the lower imports value for the October 2003 month, when compared with October 2002, were petroleum and petroleum products, aircraft and vehicles. These were partly offset by higher values for pharmaceutical products, and optical, medical and measuring equipment.

The main contributors to the lower import value for petroleum and petroleum products were motor spirit, diesel and crude oil. The lower value for crude oil was mainly due to differences in price when expressed in New Zealand dollars, with quantities recording little change. Imports of aircraft can fluctuate from month to month, particularly when large aircraft are involved.

In October 2003, three large aircraft were imported, compared with six in October 2002. Lower numbers of new cars between 1500cc and 3000cc were the main contributor to the lower import values of vehicles. Used cars showed little change in both count and value.

The provisional value of imports for the year ended October 2003 is $31,799 million, resulting in a trade deficit of $3,221 million or 11.3 percent of exports. Detailed exports statistics will be released on 9 December 2003.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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