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Exports Rise As Dairy Gains While Logs And Fish Fall

Total goods exports increased in the February 2020 month due to an increase in the value of dairy products, Stats NZ said today.

The total value of meat exports was little changed, but higher quantities were exported to the United States instead of China.

The increase in total good exports was despite falls in exports of logs and fish, particularly to China, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The value of total goods exports rose by $212 million (4.5 percent) from February 2019 to reach $4.9 billion in February 2020.

“This month’s total goods exports were up on the same month of 2019, led by dairy exports, in particular milk powder,” international statistics manager Darren Allan said.

“Dairy product exports to China remained high, but logs, meat, and fish exports were lower.”

The rise in total goods exports was led by milk powder, up $191 million (28 percent) from February 2019. This was price-led as quantities were little changed.

Partly offsetting the rise were falls in forestry products (down $124 million or 27 percent, mainly reflecting a fall in untreated logs), and fish (down $47 million or 27 percent).

Overall, meat export values fell slightly in February 2020 (down 1.4 percent), with a fall in sheep meat partly offset by a rise in beef.

Average prices per tonne were up for both beef and lamb, despite lower total export volumes for both commodities.

In February 2020, New Zealand exported less beef to China than in the same month last year, but more was shipped to the US.

“The value of monthly beef exports to the US was higher than to China for the first time since early 2019,” Mr Allan said.

“Higher quantities of New Zealand beef exports were sent to the US, rather than China, following the COVID-19 outbreak in China.”

Exports to China fall

In contrast to rises in exports to all New Zealand’s other main markets, exports to China fell $120 million in February 2020.

The leading contributors to the fall in exports to China were:

  • untreated logs (down $80 million)
  • sheep meat (down $73 million)
  • beef (down $65 million)
  • fish (down $40 million).

These falls were offset by a rise in milk powder, up $90 million on February 2019. This was led by a 30 percent increase in average unit values. The quantity exported also rose, up 13 percent.

Goods imports fall

The value of goods imports in February 2020 fell $475 million (9.9 percent) from February 2019, with falls across all major categories of imported goods.

The leading contributor to the fall was industrial transport equipment (such as aircraft), down $161 million from high levels a year ago. Intermediate goods (products imported as inputs in the production of other goods and services, such as crude oil), fell $134 million; consumer goods fell $92 million.

Imports fell across many of New Zealand’s top markets (except for the US). The largest of the falls was China (down $218 million or 22 percent), with falls in clothing, furniture, and laptops.

“In February 2020, imports from China fell by over 20 percent from same month in 2019,” Mr Allan said.

Trade surplus

The monthly trade balance in February 2020 was a surplus of $594 million. In the previous 10 February months, there were eight surpluses and two deficits.


A glance at NZ trade with China after the coronavirus outbreak – 18 March update

for an earlier release of provisional trade statistics.

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