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Billion-dollar dairy leads to record export month

Embargoed until 10:45am – 31 January 2008

Billion-dollar dairy exports lead to record export Month

Merchandise exports in December 2007 were up a quarter from December 2006, reaching $3.7 billion, the highest exports figure for any month, Statistics New Zealand said today. The main contributor to this increase was exports of milk powder, butter and cheese which exceeded $1 billion for the first time.

Combined with the contribution from casein and caseinates, dairy exports were two-thirds higher than in December 2006.

Record dairy export values and the recent increase in crude oil exports have resulted in large increases in exports for three consecutive months. These increases have sent the value of exports for the December quarter over $10 billion for the first time in any quarter. The seasonally adjusted figures for the December 2007 quarter show the largest quarterly increase on record for merchandise exports, at over 20 percent.

Monthly imports were also up in December, but to a lesser extent. After a deficit of $346 million in December 2006, the trade balance in December 2007 was a small surplus of $33 million, only the second December surplus in the past decade. It should be noted that trade figures remain provisional for three months and updates could change this balance. For the December 2007 year the trade balance was a deficit of $5.3 billion, the smallest annual deficit since June 2005.

Cathryn Ashley-Jones
Acting Government Statistician
31 January 2008


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