A third successive month of record imports has pushed New Zealand to a record trade deficit.
Statistics New Zealand said September imports - at $6.6 billion - outstripped exports ($4.4 billion) by some $2.2 billion. A record.
The import figure was up some $1.5 billion (30%) on the same month a year ago.
The exports figure was $387 million higher than a year ago.
The annual trade balance for the year ended September 2021 was a deficit of $4.1 billion.
"These three consecutive record months for imports are a reflection of both the higher prices New Zealanders are paying for consumer goods, and strong demand for capital goods such as machinery used in construction, and passenger vehicles," Stats NZ's international trade manager Alasdair Allen said.
The largest contributor to the rise in imports was again vehicles, parts, and accessories, up $269 million (43%) compared with a year ago to $895 million.
Stats NZ said September 2021 also saw the highest monthly value of imports of electric vehicles to date, at $53 million. Imports of electric vehicles accounted for 6.0% of all passenger vehicle imports in the year ended September 2021, whereas they made up just 2.0% in the year ended September 2018.
Other significant rises in imports were in mechanical machinery and equipment (up $192 million), and electrical machinery and equipment (up $131 million), with its top contributor being mobile phones (up $60 million).
On the exports side, dairy products have been a star. Giant dairy co-operative Fonterra on Tuesday raised its forecast payout to farmers for the current season to an implied record-equalling $8.40 per kilogram of milk solids up from $8 previously.
Exports of milk powder, butter, and cheese were up $128 million (17%) in September, reaching $904 million. The largest contributor to this rise was milk powder, up $64 million.
"We've seen a strong start to the export season for milk powder, butter, and cheese, this month having the highest value for exports for any September month since 2013," Allen said.