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Overseas trade – prices up, volumes down

Embargoed until 10:45am – 11 June 2008

Overseas trade – prices up, volumes down

The price indexes for both merchandise exports and imports rose in the March 2008 quarter, while volumes for both were down, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Although volumes fell for both exports and imports in the March 2008 quarter, both have come off the highs set in December 2007, and are still at the second highest levels on record.

The export price index rose 4.5 percent in the March 2008 quarter while volumes fell 3.5 percent, with dairy products the main contributor to both movements. The dairy products price index rose 19.7 percent to reach a new high in March 2008, with rises recorded for milk and cream, butter, and cheese. At the same time, volumes fell 10.6 percent (from the record high of the December 2007 quarter), with falls recorded in all dairy products sub-indexes except for butter.

The merchandise import price index rose 0.3 percent in the March 2008 quarter while import volumes fell 0.9 percent. The price increase was driven by an 8.3 percent rise in the petroleum and petroleum products index. However, when these products are excluded, the price index for total merchandise imports shows a fall of 1.1 percent. The fall in import volumes follows six consecutive quarterly increases, with the current decrease led by transport equipment, primarily due to reduced volumes of aircraft imports compared with December 2007.

Due to export prices rising more than import prices, the merchandise terms of trade index rose 4.1 percent in the March 2008 quarter. The terms of trade have now risen for six consecutive quarters.

Dallas Welch (Mrs)
Acting Government Statistician
11 June 2008


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