Dairying boosted the country's primary exports to their
largest ever February trade surplus, with both exports to and
imports from China rising, while former top trading partner
Australia booked declines in both areas.
The goods trade balance for February, again recognising China
as the top export destination, provided an $818 million
surplus, equivalent to 18% of exports.
SNZ industry and labour statistics manager Louise
Holmes-Oliver said dairy's rise last month was supported by
logs and meat, with much of the increase in those commodities
destined for China.
Exports were up 17%, by $663 million to $4.6 billion and
imports rose 8%, by $277 million to $3.7 billion, the latter
led by an $85 million increase in petroleum-related products,
Statistics New Zealand data showed yesterday.
ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said after recording a
string of annual deficits, from April 2012 through to
December 2013, the annual trade balance was ''back well into
''And with demand for New Zealand commodities extending its
amazing run well into 2014, we expect a good run of trade
surpluses to follow.
''New Zealand's trade balance surplus is surging,'' Mr Penny
China was the ''common denominator'', having for the year
accounted for $10.9 billion, or more than a fifth of New
''The value of annual exports to China was up 53% from a year
earlier,'' he said.
Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said the strong dairy
exports remained an important driver for export growth, the
data also featuring higher meat and logs exports.
''China has become an increasingly important destination for
many of New Zealand's key commodity exports with strong
demand supporting higher prices,'' she said yesterday.
For the 12 months to February, the surplus stood at $649
While exports were led by dairying, up 38% or by $433
million, there was at the same time a 4.8% decline in the
Ms Boniface said the higher international prices for New
Zealand's key commodity exports had boosted domestic incomes,
particularly in the rural sector.
'' We expect this to be reflected in the broader New Zealand
economy in a range of ways this year, including via higher
consumption and investment spending,'' Ms Boniface said.
Last week, New Zealand and China agreed to allow direct
trading between their currencies, adding to a surge in trade
links since a free trade agreement was signed in 2008,
The Reserve Bank governor, Graeme Wheeler, yesterday noted
the deeper relationship and said the bank was reviewing its
exchange rate measures, which it hoped to complete before the
end of the year.