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Imports Rise 7.1 Percent

Imports Rise 7.1 Percent

The seasonally adjusted value of merchandise imports rose 7.1 percent in the March 2004 quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand. The import trend has risen since the second half of 2003 after being flat for nearly three years.

The value of the New Zealand dollar, measured by the trade weighted index, rose 4.7 percent during the March 2004 quarter. A higher exchange rate generally has a downward influence on import prices and may lead to an increase in quantities of imported commodities.

The values of all the main broad economic categories rose, with the exception of crude oil. The main contributors to the rise in the seasonally adjusted value of imports for the March 2004 quarter were capital transport equipment and intermediate goods.

The seasonally adjusted value of imports of intermediate goods, excluding crude oil, rose 7.4 percent during the March 2004 quarter. The main contributors to the rise in this group were processed industrial supplies; parts and accessories for capital plant; and processed food and beverages for industry.

The value of capital transport equipment rose 21.0 percent this quarter, the fourth consecutive quarterly rise. In the March 2004 quarter, six large aircraft were imported, valued at over $400 million in total. With large aircraft excluded, this category would be 1.1 percent lower than for the December 2003 quarter.

The provisional value of merchandise imports for March 2004 is $2,735 million. The estimated value of merchandise exports is $2,800 million, resulting in an estimated trade surplus of $65 million or 2.3 percent of exports. A surplus is usual for March, and the average March trading surplus during the past 10 years is 7.8 percent of exports.

For the year ended March 2004, the provisional value of merchandise imports is $32,357 million, 0.6 percent higher than for the year ended March 2003.

Detailed exports information will be released on 10 May 2004.

Ian Ewing

Acting Government Statistician

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