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Oil-related trade boosts exports and imports

Embargoed until 10:45am – 26 May 2008

Oil-related trade boosts exports and imports

The value of merchandise exports rose 19.7 percent from April 2007 to April 2008, to reach $3.8 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today. Imports were up 22.0 percent to $4.1 billion. Both increases were led by oil-related commodities, which commonly have irregular monthly trade patterns.

Exports reached another new high in April 2008, the third in the last five months. April 2008 was also the eighth consecutive month to show significant increases (from the same month of the previous year) led by crude oil, and milk powder, butter and cheese. Crude oil exports were up $265 million to reach a record high of $311 million – this followed the March figure of $130 million, which was the lowest since production from the Tui oilfield began. Oil is exported and imported in large, irregular shipments and the timing of these can make a big difference to monthly figures. Milk powder, butter and cheese exports were up $131 million and contributed 19.6 percent of total exports for April 2008.

The $743 million increase in imports from April 2007 followed a $402 million increase from April 2006. April 2008 imports included two large items – an oil platform and an oil production vessel – with a combined value of $477 million, while April 2007 imports included another oil production vessel worth $231 million.

The current items resulted in April 2008 having the second-highest monthly import value on record (October 2007 was the largest).

In April 2008, the monthly trade balance was a deficit of $334 million, or 8.8 percent of exports. As a percentage of exports, this is the largest deficit for an April month since 1982. However, this deficit must be considered in context with the monthly irregularity of some of the commodities (both export and import) that contributed to it.

Geoff Bascand
Government Statistician 26 May 2008


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