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Quarterly exports and imports remain high

Embargoed until 10:45am – 29 April 2008

Quarterly exports and imports remain high

Seasonally adjusted exports for the March 2008 quarter were down 1.4 percent ($150 million) from the December 2007 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. Increases in milk powder butter and cheese, and in meat and edible offal exports helped soften the decrease. Although down from last quarter's record high, the March quarter is only the second time that exports have exceeded $10 billion, and only the third quarter to exceed $9 billion.

The seasonally adjusted value of merchandise imports increased 0.4 percent (led by an increase in crude oil), following an increase of 10.8 percent in the December 2007 quarter. This is only the second time the seasonally adjusted value of imports has been greater than $11 billion; the first time was in the December 2007 quarter.

In the month of March 2008, merchandise exports were valued at $3.4 billion, up 3.7 percent from March 2007. For the seventh consecutive month, the same two commodity groups led the increase in exports; milk powder, butter and cheese, and crude oil combined were up $262 million. However, exports of all other commodities combined decreased 5.2 percent compared with March 2007.

In the month of March 2008, imports increased 7.1 percent, led by increases in crude oil; food residues; wastes and fodder; and vehicles, parts and accessories.

Figures for March 2008 month indicate that the trade balance was a deficit of $50 million (1.5 percent of exports). In the past decade, this is only the second March deficit recorded; the other one occurred in March 2005. In that 10-year period, the average balance for March months was a surplus of $100 million (or 3.5 percent of exports).

Geoff Bascand

Government Statistician

29 April 2008


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