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Overseas Merchandise Trade (Imports) - May 1999

Imports continue to grow

Release from Statistics New Zealand

The value of merchandise imports continued to grow strongly during May according to Statistics New Zealand figures released today. The imports trend has now risen each month for two years.

Increased imports of cars and household consumption goods are again leading contributors to the growth. This is consistent with Gross Domestic Product statistics released today which show increasing domestic demand, Government Statistician Len Cook said.

Imports of cars have risen strongly and now exceed the previous peak of two years ago. The removal of tariffs on imported cars in May 1998, the closure of the New Zealand car assembly industry, and low interest rates have been factors contributing to this growth.

There has been some increase in the value of imports of intermediate goods but it is too early to know whether this is related to an upturn in business confidence and industrial production. An increase in the value of imports from Asia is consistent with reports of an export-led recovery in some Asian economies. The total value of provisional merchandise imports for May 1999 was $1,911 million.

May 1999 merchandise export statistics will be released on 9 July 1999. Preliminary estimates indicate the export value will be about $1,980 million. The merchandise exports trend is now showing that export values are in decline. The merchandise trade balance for May 1999 is expected to be a surplus of about $70 million. Merchandise trade balances in the three previous years have each produced surpluses exceeding $300 million, in the month of May. The merchandise trade flows are separate from the exports and imports of services that are measured quarterly and which have shown stronger export values.


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