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Exports and imports still showing strong growth

Embargoed until 10:45am – 29 September 2008

Exports and imports still showing strong growth

The value of merchandise exports rose 34.1 percent from August 2007 to August 2008, to reach $3.6 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today. Imports were up 19.6 percent to $4.3 billion over the same period.

While the exports trend continued to grow in recent months, it has eased compared with the period of strong growth in the second half of 2007. The imports trend has increased strongly since the middle of 2007, coinciding with a significant rise in fuel prices up until mid July 2008.

Milk powder, butter and cheese (up $210 million) led the exports increase in August 2008 compared with August 2007, with whole milk powder a significant contributor. Crude oil exports followed closely with an increase of $190 million compared with August 2007 (the first full month of production from the Tui oilfield).

Crude oil prices have increased significantly since August 2007. Meat and edible offal exports were up $121 million in August 2008 with frozen beef and lamb cuts the main contributors to this rise.

Petroleum and products (up $329 million) led the imports increase in August 2008 compared with August 2007 and crude oil was the main contributor. The next largest increase came from aircraft and parts (up $169 million) – two large aircraft were imported during August 2008.

In August 2008 the monthly trade balance was a deficit of $750 million. This deficit is the smallest since 2004 and equates to 21.0 percent of exports. The annual trade balance for the year ended August 2008 was a deficit of $4.3 billion (10.3 percent of exports). As a percentage of exports, this is the smallest annualised trade deficit since August 2003.

Geoff Bascand
Government Statistician
29 September 2008



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