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Value of December Quarter Imports Falls

Value of December Quarter Imports Falls

The seasonally adjusted value of imports for the December 2003 quarter fell 1.0 percent, when compared with the September 2003 quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand. Over the past three years, the import trend has remained relatively flat as the New Zealand dollar has generally appreciated. A higher exchange rate generally has a downward influence on import prices and may lead to an increase in quantities of imported commodities.

Contributing to the lower seasonally adjusted value of imports were intermediate goods, motor spirit and passenger motor cars. These falls were mostly offset by a rise in value for transport equipment; plant, machinery and equipment; and durable consumer goods.

The provisional value of merchandise imports for the December 2003 month is $2,806 million, up 5.6 percent when compared with December 2002. The estimated value of exports for December 2003 is $2,300 million, resulting in a trade deficit of $506 million or 22.0 percent of exports. The average trade deficit for the past 10 December months was 5.5 percent of exports.

Both the imports and exports trends indicate rising values in recent months. Detailed exports statistics will be released on 10 February 2004.

The provisional value of merchandise imports for the year ended December 2003 is $31,790 million, a decrease of 1.7 percent from the previous year. Mechanical machinery and equipment; plastic and plastic articles; textiles and textile articles; and aluminium oxide were the main contributors to the lower value of imports.

The estimated value of merchandise exports for the year ended December 2003 is $28,390 million, resulting in an estimated trade deficit of $3,400 million or 12.0 percent of exports.

This is the second largest recorded deficit as a percentage of exports in the last ten years. In 1999, the frigate HMNZS Te Mana, valued at $632 million, was imported as well as another vessel and an aircraft, each valued at over $100 million. This contributed to a deficit that was 15.0 percent of exports for that year. With these large import items excluded, the trade deficit for the year ended December 1999 would have been 10.7 percent of exports.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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