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The volumes of both merchandise imports and exports fell in the December 2008 quarter, while prices for both were up as a result of the New Zealand dollar depreciating nearly 12 percent, Statistics New Zealand said today. Seasonally adjusted import volumes fell 4.8 percent in the December 2008 quarter, following a fall of 5.3 percent in the September 2008 quarter. Seasonally adjusted export volumes fell 1.8 percent in the December 2008 quarter, following falls in each of the preceding three quarters.
Passenger motor cars (down 27.1 percent) and capital goods (down 7.7 percent) were the main contributors to the latest fall in seasonally adjusted import volumes. Intermediate goods (up 3.9 percent) was the largest offsetting increase to the overall decrease in import volumes. When fuel imports are excluded, import volumes fell 8.1 percent in the December 2008 quarter. The latest fall in export volumes was mainly due to a fall in crude oil export volumes associated with declining production levels. A rise in dairy product export volumes helped to moderate the overall fall in export volumes.
The merchandise import price index rose 3.4 percent in the December 2008 quarter, following a 9.6 percent rise in the September 2008 quarter. The most significant contribution in the latest quarter came from increases in mechanical machinery prices (up 18.3 percent), due to higher prices for computers and machinery parts. This rise was partly offset by lower prices for petroleum and petroleum products (down 22.4 percent).
The merchandise export price index rose 2.5 percent in the December 2008 quarter, compared with a rise of 8.6 percent in the September 2008 quarter. Food and beverages (up 6.5 percent) made the largest contribution to the overall rise in export prices, driven by dairy products (up 5.8 percent) and meat (up 4.9 percent). A 31.6 percent fall in the petroleum and petroleum products index had the most significant offsetting impact on the overall rise in export prices.
The merchandise terms of trade fell 0.9 percent in the December 2008 quarter, due to import prices rising more than export prices. This was the third consecutive quarterly fall, and followed a 0.9 percent fall in the September 2008 quarter.