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Imports Continue To Grow - Outstrip Exports

Latest statistics show that the underlying trend in merchandise imports continues to rise. However, the rate of growth has slowed slightly in recent months. A slower rate of growth in the value of imported cars has contributed to this. Import values of intermediate goods and consumption goods continue to rise strongly.

The underlying trend in the value of imported cars has been increasing since the September quarter 1997. However, the rate of growth has slowed in recent quarters after peaking in the December quarter 1998. This may reflect a levelling off of the strong growth during the last two years. This growth was associated with the removal of tariffs on cars in May 1998, the closure of the car assembly industry in New Zealand, the lower New Zealand dollar and lowering of interest rates.

Imports of intermediate goods and consumption goods continued to increase in the September quarter 1999. After slow growth in 1998, the rate of growth of intermediate goods has increased sharply in 1999. Electrical equipment and mineral fuels were the main contributors to this rise. The largest contributor to the growth in consumption goods has been textiles and textile articles, but most commodities have shown growth.

Provisional merchandise imports for September 1999 were $2,574 million.

September 1999 export statistics will be released on 10 November 1999. Preliminary estimates indicate that the export value will be about $2,030 million. This suggests a trade deficit of about $544 million. However, imports include aircraft and parts valued at $291 million, and export documentation received so far includes aircraft and parts valued at over $70 million. During the 1990s, the average trade balance for the month of September, including September 1999, was a deficit of $220 million. The exports trend continues to rise.

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