The value of both merchandise exports and imports fell in August 2009 compared with August 2008, down 23.2 percent and 21.6 percent, respectively, Statistics New Zealand said today. Export values have now returned to a level similar to what they were in August 2007, before the large value rises observed in dairy and crude oil exports in the latter half of 2007 and during 2008.
Most export commodity categories decreased in August 2009, with an overall decrease of $830 million in export values. Exports of crude oil were the largest contributor, down $177 million (50.9 percent) mainly due to lower prices. The next largest contributions came from meat and edible offal, down $125 million (32.2 percent) on lower quantities, and milk powder, butter and cheese, down $118 million (24.8 percent) despite quantities being up almost 30 percent.
Similarly, most import categories decreased in August 2009, with an overall decrease of $953 million in import values. The largest contribution came from petroleum and products, down $424 million (45.1 percent), led by crude oil, again mainly due to lower prices. Vehicles, parts, and accessories was the next largest decrease, down $151 million (34.3 percent) with significant decreases in imports of passenger cars and goods transport vehicles.
The trends for merchandise exports and imports both peaked in the latter half of 2008 and have been declining since then. The exports trend has been declining since October 2008, and is down 10.5 percent since that time, while the trend for imports has been declining since August 2008, and is down 20.7 percent since then. This is the largest fall seen in the exports trend since the 16.5 percent fall that occurred from June 2001 to June 2003. The fall in the imports trend is the largest since the series began in 1988.
The trade balance for August 2009 was a deficit of $725 million or 26.4 percent of the value of exports. This compares with an average August deficit of 34.1 percent of exports for the previous five years.
Geoff Bascand 25 September 2009