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Imports Continue to Rise

Overseas Merchandise Trade (Imports) - July 1999

The level of merchandise imports continued to rise during July 1999, according to Statistics New Zealand figures released today. Imports of cars and household consumption goods were leading contributors to the growth in July.

The underlying trend in imports has been increasing since April 1997. Much of this growth is attributable to a sharp increase in imports of cars. Most commodities have shown growth over this period.

Imports of cars have risen strongly and now exceed the previous peak of three years ago. For the year ended July 1999 the number of cars imported was 51 per cent higher than in the year ended July 1998 and 25 per cent higher than in the year ended July 1997. The removal of tariffs on imported cars in May 1998, the closure of the New Zealand car assembly industry, and low interest rates are likely to have played a part in this growth.

Provisional merchandise imports for July 1999 were $2,177 million. Imports from Asia, especially Japan, continued to show strong growth. Imports from Australia remain strong.

July 1999 merchandise export statistics will be released on 8 September 1999. Preliminary estimates indicate the export value will be about $2,030 million. This suggests a trade deficit of about $147 million. During the 1990s, the average trade balance for the month of July, including July 1999, was a deficit of about $140 million.


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