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Exports and imports higher, but growth rate eases

Embargoed until 10:45am – 27 November 2008

Exports and imports higher, but growth rate eases

The value of merchandise exports was 13.8 percent higher in October 2008 than in October 2007, and reached $3.8 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today. Imports were up 15.3 percent to $4.8 billion over the same period.

The growth in the exports trend has eased since January 2008 following a period of strong growth between June 2007 and then. The slower trend growth in 2008 coincided with the drought in the early part of the year. More recently, crude oil exports have stabilised with quantities now similar to the second half of 2007 – the Tui oil field completed it first full year of operation in July 2008. The imports trend continues to grow but appears to be easing in recent months.

Milk powder, butter and cheese (up $123 million) led the exports increase in October 2008 compared with October 2007. Meat and edible offal, and logs, wood and wood articles were both up $68 million in October 2008.

Petroleum and products led the increase in the value of merchandise imports in October 2008 compared with October 2007, with crude oil the largest contributor. The increase in petroleum and products was partly offset by a fall in ships, boats and floating structures, which were down from a high level in October 2007 when an oil rig was imported.

The value of passenger motor car imports fell to an eight-year low of $221 million in October 2008, as a decline in the number of cars with engines larger than 1500cc has been only partly offset by an increase in the number of smaller cars.

In October 2008, the value of the monthly trade balance was a deficit of $942 million. Although this is the second largest deficit for an October month in dollar terms, as a percentage of exports it is below the average for October for the preceding five years.

Dallas Welch (Mrs)
Acting Government Statistician
27 November 2008


See also the Hot Off The Press information release Overseas Merchandise Trade: October 2008 [PDF].



Overseas Merchandise Trade: October 2008 Highlights

• For the month of October 2008 compared with October 2007 unless otherwise stated:

• Merchandise exports were valued at $3.8 billion, up $466 million (13.8 percent).

• Growth in the exports trend has slowed since January 2008. Milk powder, butter and cheese (up $123 million) led the increase for exports followed by meat and edible offal; and logs, wood and wood articles, both up $68 million.

• Merchandise imports were up $634 million (15.3 percent) to $4.8 billion.

• Petroleum and products (up $337 million) led the increase for imports with crude oil the main contributor.

• The monthly trade balance was a deficit of $942 million - as a percentage of exports (24.6 percent), this is below the average for October in the preceeding five years.

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