Higher dairy, wood, and wine exports lift trade surplus

Cornelia Mascio
Mag 24, 2017

New Zealand's April trade balance held in positive territory for a second consecutive month, the national statistics bureau reported Wednesday.

Official figures show a surplus of $578 million in April, more than double the $227m surplus the month before. Easter fell in April this year, but the holiday appeared to have little impact on exports, and both exports and imports reached new highs for an April month, the release said.

Analysts in a median estimate called for the surplus to narrow to $268 million.

The annual trade deficit reduced to $3.5 billion in April from $3.7 billion in March.

Goods exports came in at NZD 4.8 billion in April, up 9.8 percent year-on-year. Exports are pegged at NZ$4.40 billion, down from NZ$4.65 billion in the previous month.

Meanwhile, goods imports also advanced in April, lifting 4.9 per cent to $4.17b, setting a new record for an April month.

Dairy prices boosted the value of the country's largest commodity.

Investors are circling May 25 on their calendar for the New Zealand Treasury's annual Budget.

The top-five export commodities all rose compared with April 2016. Milk powder, butter, and cheese continued the increases seen in recent months, up 35 percent on the back of higher prices. "This trimmed back the annual deficit, which reached an eight-year high in February", said global trade statistics senior manager Daria Kwon. The main movements were intermediate goods (led by petroleum) and capital goods (led by mobile phones, portable computers, and tractors). "Over the remainder of 2017, we expect the underlying trade balance to improve further, reflecting healthy meat and dairy export prices and lifting agriculture production".

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