The annual trade deficit for the year ended February 2017 was $3.8 billion, the largest since April 2009, Stats NZ said today.
The export of a large drilling platform in 2016 inflated annual exports and reduced the annual trade deficit over the period from February 2016 to January 2017. Drilling platforms, some worth hundreds of millions of dollars, are counted in goods trade as imports when they arrive in New Zealand and as exports when they leave, even though they are typically leased for the period they are in New Zealand.
If the drilling platform export of 2016 is excluded, the annual trade deficit of March 2016 would have been $4.0 billion, just under the $4.1 billion deficit in April 2009, when the annual deficit was last over $4 billion.
Goods exports fell $232 million (5.5 percent) in February 2017 compared with the same month of the previous year, largely due to the export of the drilling platform in February 2016. Excluding this single export, goods exports showed little change, up $35 million (0.9 percent).
“There were mixed results for New Zealand’s other export commodities in February 2017,” international trade statistics senior manager Daria Kwon said. “Exports of dairy, meat, and fruit were up, but other primary produce exports, including fish, wool, and casein, were down compared with the same month of the previous year.”
In February 2017, dairy exports were up $55 million (5.6 percent) in value, led by rises in the value of butter and other milk fats (up $45 million), and milk powder (up $20 million). These rises in value were despite quantities falling for both these commodities, and follows a similar pattern to recent months.
Imports rose $154 million (4.0 percent) in February 2017, led by a large rise in crude oil (up $101 million). Crude oil rose in both price and quantity compared with the same month in 2016. In general, prices for crude oil imports were lower than average in the first four months of 2016.
The monthly trade balance for February 2017 was a deficit of $18 million, in contrast to the surpluses of recent February months.
Overseas Merchandise Trade: February 2017 – for more data and analysis
| A STATSNZ release | March 24, 2017 |||