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NZ merchandise trade surplus NZ$1.1 billion in April, above NZ$600 million expected; Highest monthly surplus ever, Stats NZ says

NZ merchandise trade surplus NZ$1.1 billion in April, above NZ$600 million expected; Highest monthly surplus ever, Stats NZ says

By Alex Tarrant

New Zealand recorded a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$1.1 billion in April, the highest monthly surplus ever recorded, figures released by Statistics New Zealand show. 

Economists had been expecting a surplus of NZ$600 million for the month, up from NZ$578 million in March, revised up from NZ$464 million previously.

The NZ$1.1 billion surplus in April was 24% of the value in exports, and was the highest in this measure since May 1993, Stats NZ said.

Following the figures, the New Zealand dollar rose to a post-float high of 82.15 US cents, from 81.64 US cents immediately before the release. At 1 o'clock Monday afternoon, the Kiwi had retreated slightly to just above 82 US cents. The previous high of 82.14 US cents was recorded on March 14, 2008.

Record month for exports

“Contributing to the surplus, exports in April 2011 reached NZ$4.7 billion, also a new high,” Stats NZ overseas trade manager Neil Kelly said.

The total value of goods exported in April 2011 rose NZ$691 million (17%) from April 2010, across a range of commodities, led by the milk powder, butter, and cheese commodity group, Kelly said.

The total value of goods imported in April 2011 rose NZ$238 million (7.2%) from April 2010, to NZ$3.5 billion, led by increases in petroleum and products values.

"The trends for export and import values have continued to increase since their most recent low points in September 2009. While the trend for exports is at its highest level, the trend for imports is 9.5% below its peak in September 2008," Kelly said.

The annual trade balance for the year ended April 2011 was a surplus of NZ$1.2 billion (2.6% of exports). This was the largest surplus for a year ended April since 1994, Kelly said.

Something for Reserve Bank to watch

ASB economist Jane Turner said the strength in exports appeared to be relatively broad based through a range of export categories, and fundamentals for a strong export performance remained positive for the future.

"The strength in the export data, particularly in commodities, highlights the export-led nature of the economic recovery. However, despite the increase in incomes, the rural sector has remained relatively cautious, opting to reduce debt rather than increase investment and other spending. This has muted the stimulatory impact on the remainder of the economy," Turner said.

"Going forward, commodity exports are expected to continue to perform well, given the robust strength in agricultural commodity prices on global markets," Turner said.

"The key issue for the RBNZ to monitor is when increased rural incomes and confidence translate to increased spending and investment."

(Updates with NZ$ reaction, ASB economist comments, provides revised March surplus figure of NZ$578 milion, up from NZ$464 million, with Stats NZ comments, chart)

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Oh no - this must somehow be terrible news!

Give it time , and Bernard  will find a way ...... Either that or  steven will remind you that it ignores peak oil , regards , IMHO .

Hahahahahahahahaha nice GBH

illogical as always GBH...


Yes! ........ IMHO .


I think GBH might have a secret crush on you steven



You're right!! NZ Inc is now saved!

THIS is what is causing the high New Zealand dollar - not wonkey politics or land sales to foreigners or whatever rubbish that amateur wannabe economist (but isn't even close to being capable) Bernard Hickey says.  It is good old fashioned supply and demand and fundamentals. lets not worry about real economics or the real fundimentals eh...lets just look at what I want to see and then dis "amateur" economists...lets just be fundiementalists....good luck on that.


Fonterra must have a big cheque from China Inc.

Do we get any cash from exporting people?

Yes BaselB3 ...those who elect to pay off their student loans in Australian dollars....teehee.

Merchandise Trade Balance is a measure of  trade in goods like cars, electronics and dairy products etc. It is the difference between import of goods and export of goods, excluding services and interest payments. In a recession it's quite probable that domestic consumption of imported goods falls. To me, it's confirmation of the stress that the economy is under as domestic spenders turn into savers/debt repayers.

They won't look at that's the raw number that matters to those who promise "recovery" is here. The export growth is not matched by the import growth even with fuel oil etc on the ticket....very difficult to convince the 'believers' that the poor import growth figures reflect recession.

The Bernanke bubble will bring bloated commodity prices but the cost of commodity imports will kill off any green growth shoots.

Nothing has changed but the date!

While that all sounds goody goody yum sets the price of food on the local market....I'd suggest a little down the track ...Joe public develop an appetite for his electronic gadgetry....with some hologram gravy to help it down.

Alex, are there any charts available showing the breakdown in volumes/products imported/exported?  Why does the trade balance chart only go as far back as 2002 yet the rest of the charts go as far back as 1990's?

Further to that Alex ...the borrowings from 2008 to current...what was the figure again...?......listen to John Boy talk and you'd be forgiven for thinking it did not happen on his watch.

IMAHO too...!

How can the increasing value of our exports be reconciled with the high value of our exchange rate?

If the exchange rate was such a barrier to exporters, shouldn’t the value of our exports be declining since the exchange rate is currently at near record highs? Or is the story not as simple as that?

Woohoo!!!  Now the banks will lend us $3 because we have produced $1 more than the $2 we borrowed.

Excellent news. Let's hope it lasts. This is really important. If exports exceed imports then most other things don't matter so much.


GDP = Consumption (consumer and business) plus government spending plus investment plus net exports.

Hope I got that right. Courtesy of John Mauldin.

Merchandise trade surplus as opposed to a monthly trade surplus including invisibles? 

If they are not the same, I guess the news is not that good, as with everything devils in the detail.


Presumably the invisibles include the $15bn of reinsurance we are receiving for Chch, so should be fairly good for the next year or two.

This is what the "NZD too high" preachers have to remember - no its actually in a sweet spot at the moment, not for every exporter but for the bulk. That won't remain the case forever, but lets leave the complaints until its the case again (admittedly that might not take long the way markets are these days)

Good on you Nicholas, you can find gloom even in the best of news.  Wolly you are being usurped!

It's not gloom, muzza! It's what I see about me. Are you spending like you did 2 or 3 years ago? Or are you saving a bit more; paying off a bit more mortgage and thinking about making that car go for just another year before changing it?

You know Nicholas your comments are no doubt true, but an indictment of NZers - basically its admitting that its not until a crisis that we start to think about how outragous our personal debt levels are 

But yes its exactly what the average Kiwi should be doing at the moment, and therefore  the record terms of trade is doublely great news.

Nicholas, I agree that anyone over-committted needs to deleverage. I do have quite a few properties and Director of a family business, but only have one small mortgage and it will be repaid just after the 2011-12 financial year. 

We went on a 10 week tour of Europe/UK this time last year,so not planning much this year, as have always intended to be in NZ to enjoy the whole RWC scene in September-October, suspect it may be the last time we will see it in NZ. [Have a nephew who will be involved, barring injury between now and then, so will follow some of his games]

My wife likes doing up houses so she's certainly helping the local economy: we live in a 1950's house, lovely site for views etc and  it was last made over about 20 years ago, so in past 6 months she's organised a new kitchen, carpet throughout, new drapes, painting inside etc, has done a nice job.  We are not doing anything much different to what we normally do, except last of family left home this year and that's a new phase!.

good ol cowcockies aye, leading the way out of   Nz 's financial gloom.

as the saying goes..`where there is muck there is money' !