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Large October Deficit Confirmed

Large October Deficit Confirmed

The updated merchandise trade deficit for October 2003 is $715 million or 31.0 percent of exports, according to Statistics New Zealand. This update confirms the deficit as being the highest recorded for an October month, as a percentage of exports, since 1989. The updated provisional merchandise exports value stands at $2,307 million, 6.6 percent lower than October 2002, while the merchandise imports value is $3,021 million.

The underlying trend for the merchandise exports value has declined 14.4 percent since March 2002. Over this period, the exchange rate has appreciated 16.9 percent, having a downward influence on export prices.

October 2003 is the third consecutive month that logs, wood and wood articles have featured as the largest contributor to the lower exports value, when comparing the same months with the previous year. The quantity of logs exported this month is down 37.8 percent (a decrease of approximately 300,000 cubic metres) and the quantity of sawn timber is down 16.8 percent (a decrease of approximately 29,000 cubic metres), when compared with October 2002.

The lower exports value was also the result of lower values recorded for petroleum and petroleum products; wool; fish, crustaceans and molluscs; and caseinates. A rise in the value of iron and steel (up $18 million) partially offset these falls.

The updated annual merchandise exports value for the year ended October 2003 is $28,553 million, down 9.1 percent when compared with the year ended October 2002. This resulted in an annual trade deficit of $3,246 million for the year ended October 2003, which is 11.4 percent of exports.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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