Overseas Merchandise Trade: January 2010

Commentary

Information in this release is for the month of January 2010 compared with January 2009 unless otherwise stated.

Exports

The value of merchandise exports for the month of January 2010 was $3.2 billion, down $19 million (0.6 percent) from January 2009. This is the eighth consecutive monthly fall in export values compared with the same month of the previous year.

The trend indicates that total merchandise exports appear to have been rising in recent months, although more data points are required to confirm the direction.

Exports to Asia increased by $263 million (24.0 percent) in January 2010 when compared with January 2009, while exports to the United States of America (down $213 million or 48.3 percent) and Europe (down $91 million or 19.2 percent) decreased.

Of the top 40 commodity categories, 24 recorded decreases in January 2010 compared with January 2009. Key decreases and increases in exports by commodity and by country of destination were as follows:

By commodity:

  • Casein and caseinates was the commodity with the largest decrease in exports for January 2010, down $88 million (60.9 percent).
 Graph, Casein and Caseinates Exports
  • Other commodities to record decreases were preparations of cereals, flour, and starch, down $52 million (52.1 percent); and meat and edible offal, down $44 million (9.1 percent).
  • Crude oil was the largest increase, up $148 million (267 percent), with quantities more than double that of January 2009. Crude oil export shipments can be irregular, which gives rise to large fluctuations in quantities and values. Exports of crude oil extracted from the Kupe oilfield commenced in January 2010. 
     
 Graph, Crude Oil Exports
  • Milk powder, butter, and cheese was the second largest increase in January 2010, up $103 million (12.1 percent). This increase was led by unsweetened whole milk powder, up $98 million (36.6 percent), due to a 54.0 percent increase in the quantity exported. The value and quantity of skimmed milk powder exported also increased.

   Graph, Milk Powder, Butter, and Cheese Exports

  • Logs, wood, and wood articles was the next largest increase, up $39 million (29.6 percent). The quantity of rough pinus radiata logs exported in January 2010 was more than double that exported in January 2009.

By country of destination:

  • The United States recorded the largest decrease in the value of exports, decreasing $213 million (48.3 percent). The decrease was driven by falls in exports of casein and caseinates (down $81 million) and natural milk constituents (down $58 million).
  • Algeria recorded the second largest decrease, down $34 million (60.6 percent); solely driven by a decline in milk powder, butter, and cheese.
  • South Africa and Japan recorded the next largest decreases, down $33 million (73.4 percent) and $31 million (11.6 percent), respectively. 
  • Australia showed the largest increase, up $88 million (15.1 percent) to $673 million. This increase was driven by a $98 million increase in crude oil, with quantity and price both higher. Crude oil export shipments can be irregular, which gives rise to large fluctuations in quantities and values. Similarly, the increase in the value of exports to Singapore, up $68 million (144 percent) was also mainly driven by crude oil.
  • Exports to the People’s Republic of China increased by $83 million (30.1 percent), driven by increases in exports of unsweetened whole milk powder and rough pinus radiata logs.

Imports

In the month of January 2010, merchandise imports were valued at $2.9 billion, down $390 million (11.9 percent) from January 2009.

The trend for total merchandise imports reached a turning point in September 2009, and has increased 4.4 percent since then. The trend is still 22.1 percent lower than its peak in August 2008.

The three main broad economic categories were all down in January 2010 compared with January 2009, with small offsetting increases in the categories of passenger motor cars, petrol and avgas, and military and other goods.

  • The intermediate goods category recorded the largest decrease, down $217 million (13.8 percent), the tenth consecutive monthly fall when compared with the same month of the previous year. There were falls in a wide variety of commodities, with automotive diesel being the largest; however, this was offset by a similar rise in crude oil. Other commodities showing significant declines included mechanical machinery and equipment; electrical machinery and equipment; iron and steel, and articles; and fertilisers.
  • Capital goods recorded the second largest decrease, down $156 million (25.6 percent), following consistent falls throughout the 2009 year (with the exception of the June month) compared with the same month of the previous year. Mechanical machinery and equipment was the largest contributor to the decline, followed by falls in vehicles, parts, and accessories; and electrical machinery and equipment.
  • Consumption goods also declined, down $89 million (10.7 percent), the seventh consecutive monthly fall compared with the same month of the previous year. Textiles and textile articles was the largest contributor to the decline, followed by falls in pharmaceutical products; and electrical machinery and equipment.
  • Passenger motor cars were the largest increase, up $67 million (59.7 percent) compared with January 2009, when the lowest January value since 1998 was recorded. Imports of both petrol and diesel cars with a rating exceeding 1500cc increased, up $63 million (66.3 percent) in total.  

 Graph, Imports by Broad Economic Category

In January 2010 compared with January 2009, import values declined across most of the top 40 commodity categories and most of the top 25 countries by country of origin.

By commodity:

  • Mechanical machinery and equipment was the largest fall, down $102 million (22.7 percent). There were falls across a range of commodities, with parts for engines and motors, and straddle carrier cranes being notable contributors to the decline.
  • Electrical machinery and equipment recorded the second largest fall, down $79 million (27.6 percent), led by falls in parts for generators and generating sets, and in wind-powered electric generating sets.
  • Iron and steel, and articles recorded the next largest decrease, down $33 million (29.7 percent).
  • Petroleum and products was the largest increase, up $22 million (4.0 percent), led by a rise in crude oil, up $106 million, and a rise in partly refined petrol, up $18 million. However, this was offset by a fall in automotive diesel, down $105 million. Imports of petroleum and products tend to be irregular, which can cause values to fluctuate from month to month, especially by country of origin. 
 Graph, Petroleum and Products Imports

 

By country of origin:

  • Japan recorded the largest decrease in imports, down $135 million (43.4 percent), led by a fall in automotive diesel, down $104 million.
  • Singapore was the second largest fall, down $103 million (64.6 percent), led by falls in motor spirit and automotive diesel.
  • Denmark was the next largest decrease, down $69 million (85.8 percent), with a $45 million (98.6 percent) fall in electrical machinery and equipment, led by electric generating set parts and wind powered electric generating sets exceeding 10kw, and a $21 million (90.3 percent) fall in mechanical machinery and equipment, led by blades for wind engines.
  • Korea recorded the largest increase, up $142 million (135 percent), driven by an increase in petroleum and products, up $141 million. Crude oil, motor spirit, and automotive diesel imports were all up.
  • Australia was the second largest increase, up $44 million (9.6 percent), driven by an increase in petroleum and products, up $75 million (184 percent), mainly due to an increase in crude oil.
  • Taiwan and Qatar recorded the next largest increases, up $32 million (61.7 percent) and $30 million (28.8 percent), respectively, with Taiwan’s increase driven by a rise in motor spirit, and Qatar’s increase driven by a rise in crude oil.

Trade balance

In January 2010, the trade balance was a surplus of $269 million or 8.5 percent of the value of exports. This compares with an average January deficit of 20.1 percent of exports for the previous five years. This is the highest January trade surplus in percentage terms since 1989.

 Graph, Merchandise Trade Balance

The annual trade balance for the year ended January 2010 was a deficit of $178 million (0.4 percent of exports). As a percentage of exports this is much lower than the average (15.7 percent) for the preceding five January years. This is the smallest annual deficit recorded as a percentage of exports, since the last annual trade surplus was recorded in July 2002.

Three months ended January 2010

Exports of merchandise goods for the three months ended January 2010 were valued at $9.6 billion, a fall of $1.1 billion (9.9 percent) from the same period of the previous year.

In the three months ended January 2010, key decreases and increases in exports compared with the three months ended January 2009 were as follows:

By commodity:

  • Milk powder, butter, and cheese recorded the largest decrease, down $308 million (11.0 percent), with declines across a wide range of commodities. The most significant declines came from natural milk constituents and cheddar cheese.
  • Casein and caseinates was the next largest decrease, down $241 million (59.9 percent), driven by lower prices and quantities.
  • Meat and edible offal, down $200 million (14.9 percent), was the next largest decrease. This was mainly driven by falls in both the price and quantity of frozen beef and, to a lesser extent, frozen lamb cuts.
  • The commodity recording the largest increase in exports for the latest quarter was crude oil, with an increase of $285 million, which is more than double the January 2009 quarter's value. This increase was driven by higher quantities and prices.

By country of destination:

  • The United States was the destination with the largest decrease in exports, down $637 million (44.7 percent). This decrease was driven by falls in milk powder, butter, and cheese, (led by natural milk constituents); casein and caseinates; and meat and edible offal (led by frozen beef).
  • Japan, down $264 million (29.2 percent), was the second largest fall, and was distributed over many commodities. Notable contributors to the decline included logs, wood, and wood articles; meat and edible offal; and milk powder, butter, and cheese. 
  • Singapore was the destination with the largest increase in exports, up $286 million (157 percent). This rise was driven by an increase in crude oil exports; and an increase in ships, boats, and floating structures (due to the one-off export of an oil rig in December 2009).
  • Australia showed the next largest increase, up $156 million (7.1 percent), mainly due to an increase in crude oil exports.
  • China showed the third highest increase, up $140 million (15.9 percent), driven by increases in milk powder, butter, and cheese (led by unsweetened whole milk powder); and logs, wood, and wood articles (led by rough pinus radiata logs).

Imports of merchandise goods for the three months ended January 2010 were valued at $9.7 billion, a fall of $2.1 billion (17.5 percent) from the same period of the previous year. 

In the three months ended January 2010, key increases and decreases in the value of imports compared with the three months ended January 2009 were as follows:

By commodity:

  • Mechanical machinery and equipment recorded the largest decrease, down $411 million (26.7 percent), with falls across a wide range of commodities. Notable contributors to the decrease included computer parts and accessories, and spray equipment parts.
  • Electrical machinery and equipment was the second largest decrease, down $247 million (22.5 percent), and was spread across several commodities. Parts for electric generating sets, wind powered electric generating sets, and telecommunications base stations were leading contributors.
  • Salt, earths, stone, lime, and cement recorded the next largest decrease, down $204 million (83.5 percent), mainly due to a decline in natural calcium phosphate imports.
  • Sugars and sugar confectionery recorded the largest increase, up $19 million (31.2 percent).
  • Live animals, and cocoa and cocoa preparations were the next largest increases, both up $9 million (57.6 percent and 17.6 percent respectively).

By country of origin:

  • China showed the largest decrease, down $288 million (16.1 percent), with falls across a range of commodities. Notable contributors to the decrease included textiles and textile articles, refrigerated vessels, and natural calcium phosphates.
  • The United States was the second largest decrease, down $270 million (23.2 percent), with mechanical machinery and equipment, down $118 million, the leading contributor to the decline.
  • Japan was the next largest decrease, down $237 million (26.0 percent), led by a decline in automotive diesel, down $157 million.
  • Morocco was down $181 million (86.5 percent), driven by decreases in natural calcium phosphates, down $156 million, and fertilisers, down $25 million.
  • The United Arab Emirates was the largest increase, up $155 million (275 percent), driven by crude oil, up $160 million.
  • Nigeria recorded the second largest increase, up $79 million, solely driven by crude oil.
  • Korea recorded the next largest increase, up $51 million (13.0 percent), driven by petroleum and products, up $136 million, with increased imports of both crude oil and automotive diesel.

Exchange rate movements

According to the Reserve Bank's Trade Weighted Index (TWI), the New Zealand dollar was 2.2 percent higher in January 2010 compared with December 2009, and 20.4 percent higher compared with January 2009.

 Graph, Trade Weighted Index

Updates to previous statistics

Provisional values published on 29 January 2010 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 

For technical information contact:
Henry Minish or Sarah Urlich;
Christchurch (03) 964 8700.

Email: overseastrade@stats.govt.nz.

Next release...

Overseas Merchandise Trade: February 2010 will be released on 26 March 2010.