Overseas Merchandise Trade: February 2011

Commentary

Information in this release is for the month of February 2011 compared with February 2010 unless otherwise stated.

Exports

The value of merchandise exports for February 2011 was $3.9 billion, up $550 million (17 percent) from February 2010.

In February 2011 compared with February 2010 most export commodity groups showed an increase. Key increases and decreases in exports by commodity grouping and by country of destination were as follows:

By commodity:

  • The largest increase in exports was in the milk powder, butter, and cheese commodity grouping, up $212 million (28 percent), dominated by unsweetened whole milk powder.
  • The second-largest increase in exports was in crude oil, up $109 million (exports have more than doubled). 
  • The next-largest increase in exports was in logs, wood, and wood articles, up $72 million (37 percent), led by pinus radiata logs.
  • Meat and edible offal, was at a similar level to February 2010, up $3 million (0.5 percent). This commodity is New Zealand’s second-largest export by value.
  • The largest decrease in exports was in preparations of cereals, flour, and starch, down $24 million (30 percent).
Graph, Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports, monthly values and quantities.  Graph, Meat and edible offal exports, monthly values and quantities.

By country of destination:
  • The largest increase was in exports to the People’s Republic of China, up $284 million (85 percent), led by milk powder, butter, and cheese.
  • The next-largest increases were in exports to Australia and Japan, up $95 million (13 percent) and $59 million (24 percent), respectively. New Zealand exported more crude oil to both counties.
  • The fourth-largest increase was in exports to the United States, up $38 million (12 percent), with increases in a range of commodities.
  • The largest decrease was in exports to the United Kingdom, down $20 million (13 percent), led by a fall in meat and edible offal exports.

Imports

In February 2011, merchandise imports were $3.7 billion, up $684 million (23 percent) from February 2010. Importation of aircraft made a large contribution to this increase. Excluding the one-off importation of aircraft, imports would have been $3.5 billion, an increase of $460 million (15 percent).

In the February 2011 month compared with the February 2010 month, key increases and decreases in imports by commodity and by country of destination were as follows:

By commodity:

  • The largest increase in imports was in aircraft and parts, up $233 million due to the one-off importation of aircraft.
  • The second-largest increase in imports was in petroleum and products, up $160 million (32 percent), led by crude oil and automotive diesel.
  • Mechanical machinery and equipment increased $59 million (17.5 percent), across a range of commodities.
  • The largest offsetting decrease was a $17 million (63 percent) fall in imports of salt, earths, stone, lime, and cement.

Graph, Petroleum and products imports, monthly values.

By country of origin:

  • The largest increase was in imports from the United States of America, up $277 million, more than double February 2010, led by the one off importation of aircraft mentioned previously.
  • The second and fourth-largest increases were in imports from Russia and Saudi Arabia, up $93 million and $52 million respectively, both due to crude oil. Crude oil import shipments tend to fluctuate by country of origin, which gives rise to large changes in quantities and values.
  • The third-largest increase was in imports from the Peoples Republic of China, up $64 million (13 percent). A variety of goods contributed to this increase, led by textiles and textile articles and fertiliser.
  • The largest decrease was in imports from Australia, down $45 million (7.4 percent) led by petroleum and products and sugars and sugar confectionery.

Seasonally adjusted and trend series

Exports

After adjusting for seasonal effects, total exports decreased 0.4 percent in February 2011, following rises of 2.3 percent and 6.2 percent in December 2010 and January 2011, respectively.

The trend in exports has grown strongly since October 2010, and has pushed through the highs of late 2008.

 Graph, Merchandise export values, monthly.

Imports

After adjusting for seasonal effects, total imports increased 6.6 percent in February 2011, after declining 1.1 percent in January 2011. Imports of aircraft in February 2011 and December 2010, have significantly influenced the movements in this series over the past three months. 

The imports trend has been increasing strongly since October 2010 but is still 8.7 percent below its September 2008 peak.

Graph, Merchandise import values, monthly.

Trade balance

In February 2011, there was a trade surplus (exports exceeded imports) of $194 million (5.0 percent of the value of exports). This is the fourth consecutive surplus for a February month. Excluding the one-off importation of aircraft, the surplus would have been larger at $418 million (11 percent of the value of exports). This compares with an average February surplus of 2.3 percent of exports for the previous five years.

For the year ended February 2011 there was a trade surplus of $758 million (1.7 percent of the value of exports). This is the first surplus for the year ended February since 2002.

Graph, Merchandise trade balance, monthly.

Exchange rate movements

According to the Reserve Bank’s Trade Weighted Index, the New Zealand dollar fell 1.3 percent in February 2011 compared with January 2011, but is up 5.0 percent compared with February 2010. 

Graph, Trade weighted index, monthly.

Updates to previous statistics

Provisional values published on 28 February 2011 have been updated. Merchandise trade statistics for the latest three months are provisional to allow for the inclusion of late data and amendments.

Table, Updates to previous statistics.

Impact of the Christchurch Earthquake on 22 February 2011

Overseas merchandise trade statistics are compiled in the Christchurch office of Statistics New Zealand. Please refer to the ‘Technical notes’ for comments on the impact of the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011 on the compilation of overseas merchandise trade statistics.

For technical information contact:
Litia Tapu or Selena Eaqub
Wellington (04) 931 4600
Email: info@stats.govt.nz

Next release...
Overseas Merchandise Trade: March 2011 will be released on 29 April 2011.