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February Trade Surplus Updated

February Trade Surplus Updated

The provisional value of merchandise exports for February 2004 is $2,517 million, 8.9 percent higher than for February 2003, according to Statistics New Zealand. This is $13 million lower than the estimated merchandise exports figure published on 25 March 2004. The provisional value of merchandise imports is $2,394 million, resulting in a merchandise trade surplus of $123 million. A surplus is typical for a February month, with February 2003 being the only time in the last 10 years that a trade deficit was recorded.

The underlying trend for the value of merchandise exports has been rising for seven consecutive months, despite an appreciating exchange rate which generally exerts a downward influence on export prices.

Milk powder and butter were the main contributors to the rise recorded in the total value of exports for February 2004. Meat and wood pulp exports also recorded higher values this month, when compared with February 2003. These higher values were partially offset by lower values for exported caseinates, and raw lamb and sheep skins.

The higher value of exported bulk butter in February 2004, when compared with February 2003, contributed significantly to the higher value recorded for milk powder, butter and cheese. The values of skimmed and whole milk powder exports in February 2004 were both higher, up 37.6 and 13.1 percent, respectively, when compared with the same period last year. The quantities of bulk butter and milk powder exports were also higher than quantities exported during February 2003.

Frozen beef, and fresh (bone-in) sheep and lamb cuts both recorded higher values and quantities this month, when compared with February 2003. This reflects the relatively high number of animals slaughtered for export during January 2004.

For the year ended February 2004, the updated value of merchandise exports is $28,582 million, 6.3 percent lower than for the year ended February 2003. The updated annual trade deficit is $3,492 million or 12.2 percent of exports.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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