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Primary sector drives increase in May exports

Exports remained at high levels in May, driven by increases in primary sector exports including dairy, fruit, and fish, Stats NZ said today.

In May 2019, the value of total goods exports rose $455 million (8.5 percent) from May 2018 to reach $5.8 billion.

Exports of dairy products (the milk powder, butter, and cheese commodity group) led the rise in exports, up $171 million (15 percent) to $1.3 billion in May 2019.

This rise was led by milk powder, up $155 million on a year earlier. The rise was quantity-led, but unit values also rose, up 3.9 percent on May 2018. In contrast, milk fats including butter fell $58 million.

“The rise in dairy export values in recent months mainly reflects greater quantities,” international trade analyst Dave Adair said.

“In the earlier part of the 2018/19 export season, overall quantities of dairy products were down on the same month of the previous year. In contrast, the quantities were higher for the months from November 2018.”

In the export season from August 2018, overall quantities of dairy exports were up around 9 percent on the same period in the previous year.

Other main contributors were food preparations (up $72 million) (this commodity group includes infant formula), fruit (up $52 million), and fish (up $49 million).

In contrast, petroleum and products other than crude oil (such as liquefied natural gas and residual oils) fell $101 million from a year earlier.

Of our main export markets, China had the largest increase, up $349 million (29 percent) to $1.5 billion. The rise was led by increases in milk powder, beef, food preparations, and logs.

Crude oil leads rise in imports

Imports of crude oil (up $363 million) led a rise in goods imports of $390 million (7.6 percent) in May 2019.

This rise was due to low crude oil import quantities in May 2018, when there was a maintenance shutdown of the Marsden Point oil refinery.

In contrast, petroleum and products other than crude oil (petrol, diesel, and jet fuel) fell $130 million.

“During the oil refinery shutdown in May 2018, New Zealand’s fuel needs were met by products refined overseas,” Mr Adair said.

“In May this year, we imported larger amounts of crude oil, and less of refined product.”

Other main contributors to the rise in imports were ships and boats (up $75 million), aircraft and parts (up $50 million), and mechanical machinery and equipment (up $34 million).

As well as the fall in other petroleum products, vehicles, parts, and accessories fell $183 million.

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