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Exports Improve but Trade Deficit Still Grows

Latest figures from Statistics New Zealand show an increase in exports in the September 1999 quarter. This increase has been assisted by a falling New Zealand dollar and recovery in exports of some major commodities. However the trade deficit continues to worsen due to continued strong growth in imports.

For September 1999, provisional unadjusted merchandise exports were $2,030 million. The underlying monthly trend has been rising continuously since December 1995. The value of exports in the September 1999 quarter was 8.3 percent higher than a year earlier.

Seasonally adjusted exports of many major export commodities including milk powder, butter and cheese; fish, crustaceans and molluscs; wool; and non-food manufactured goods showed recovery in the September quarter 1999 after decreasing in the June quarter 1999. Quarterly trend values and quantities for exports of wood and wood products have risen for the last five consecutive quarters. The falling New Zealand dollar is contributing to an improvement in export prices and values.

The growth in seasonally adjusted export values, however, has been matched by similar growth in import values. The monthly trend in the merchandise trade balance has been worsening since September 1998. The provisional unadjusted balance for September 1999 was a deficit of $544 million. For the 1990s, the average trade balance for the September months was a deficit of $220 million. The balance for the year ended September 1999 was a deficit of $2,248 million. Recent imports of large aircraft and a ship continue to affect the trade balance figures.

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