New Zealand recorded a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$1.1 billion in 2010, the first surplus in a calendar year since 2001, figures released today by Statistics New Zealand show.
The value of merchandise exports rose by just under NZ$4 billion, or 9.6% from 2009 to NZ$43.5 billion in 2010. Exports had fallen 7.5% in 2009 from the previous year after rising in consecutive years from 2004 to 2008.
The value of merchandise imports was NZ$42.4 billion in 2010, up 5.3% from 2009.
Here is a release from Stats NZ on the December 2010 month and quarter:
Led by a rise in meat products, seasonally adjusted exports rose 3.1 percent to $11.1 billion in the December 2010 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today.
“The value of meat and edible offal exports rose 26 percent for the quarter, with quantities 19 percent higher,” overseas trade manager Neil Kelly said. “Values and quantities were also up significantly for logs and wood products.”
The total value of goods imported, after adjusting for seasonal effects, increased 4.2 percent to $10.9 billion in the December 2010 quarter, led by a 15 percent increase in capital goods. If a large one-off capital import is excluded, the increase for the December 2010 quarter would be 2.0 percent.
The seasonally adjusted trade balance for the December 2010 quarter was a surplus of $275 million (2.5 percent of exports), the fifth consecutive quarterly surplus.
In the month of December 2010 the unadjusted value of New Zealand’s exported goods rose by $390 million (11 percent) to 3.8 billion compared with December 2009. The value of imported goods increased $614 million (18 percent) to $4.1 billion over the same period.
The trade balance for the December 2010 month was a deficit of $250 million (6.6 percent of exports).
Here is JP Morgan economist Helen Kevans' take on the figures:
The one positive take away from this morning’s data [of trade and building consent figures] was the composition of the quarterly trade numbers. Exports increased 3.1%q/q in 4Q, with the trend now up 15% since the December 2009 quarter. Imports were up 4.2%q/q, and although they would have been weaker (up just 2.0%) in the absence of the one-off importation of aircraft, the rise was underpinned by a jump in imports of capital goods. The 15%q/q spike in imports of capital goods over the fourth quarter points to an increase in business investment, which trails on the back of recent improvements in business confidence. A pick up in business investment is central to our view that the labour market recovery will gain traction in 2H11, reducing the deleveraging headwind that continues to curb growth.
Looking at the details, the monthly trade balance printed at –NZ$250 million (J.P. Morgan: +NZ$100 million; consensus +NZ$50 million) in December, compared to a balance of NZ$186 million previously. As usual, though, our focus rests on the less noisy annual measure. The annual trade balance remained in positive territory, but narrowed to NZ$1.13 billion from NZ$1.36 billion. The largest increase in exports by destination was to China (+44%oya), which continues to grow as a key source of demand for New Zealand exports as changes in consumer preferences and dietary patterns have bolstered Chinese consumption of dairy products. Indeed, much of the increase in exports in December owed to higher exports of dairy products, with shipments of milk powder, butter, and cheese jumping 31%oya.