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Jan trade deficit reduces by half billion dollars

Embargoed until 10:45am – 29 February 2008

January trade deficit reduces by half a billion dollars

The monthly trade balance in January 2008 was a deficit of $320 million, down more than half a billion dollars on the deficit recorded in January 2007, Statistics New Zealand said today. Two export commodity groups drove the January 2008 decrease in the monthly deficit when compared with January 2007, they were milk powder, butter and cheese, which rose $292 million, and petroleum and products which rose $225 million.

Exports in January 2008 rose 24.0 percent when compared with the previous year, while the change in imports over this period was comparatively small with an increase of 2.8 percent.

Milk powder, butter and cheese, and petroleum and products, continue to be the commodity groups showing the largest export increases, as they have done since October 2007. Milk powder rose to a level of $482 million. The main destinations for this product in the January 2008 month were Venezuela, the Philippines and Malaysia, which together took over $132 million.

Over three quarters of the top 40 import commodity groups (by annual value) recorded increases when comparing January 2008 with January 2007. However total merchandise imports only recorded a small increase. This rise was limited by the import of a large aircraft in January 2007.

The trade balance surplus with Australia at $116 million is the largest monthly surplus recorded in the last 20 years. The average monthly trade balance with Australia in the last decade is an $82 million deficit. The commodity group contributing most to the January 2008 surplus was petroleum and products accounting for almost one third of our exports to Australia.

Dallas Welch (Mrs)
Acting Government Statistician 29 February 2008


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