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Trade Deficit Still Worsening

Latest statistics show the trend in the merchandise trade deficit continuing to worsen. Although merchandise exports are increasing, their growth is at a slower rate than that recorded for merchandise imports.

The trend in merchandise exports has been rising continuously from the start of 1996. Recent strong growth in merchandise imports, however, has resulted in the trade deficit worsening for the eleventh consecutive month. This is despite the New Zealand dollar falling for the third consecutive month.

For the month of August 1999 the provisional merchandise trade balance was a deficit of $433 million. The average trade balance for the month of August during the 1990s was a deficit of $209 million.

For the year ended August 1999, the provisional merchandise trade balance was a deficit of $1,893 million. In current dollars this is the largest deficit recorded. As a proportion of merchandise export values, however, there were larger deficits in the mid-1970s and mid-1980s. The trade balance for the year ended August 1998 was a deficit of $360 million. Recent imports of large aircraft and ships have affected the latest trade balance figures.

Provisional merchandise exports for the month of August 1999 were $1,887 million.

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