New Zealand posted a merchandise trade deficit of NZ$1.350 billion in September, Statistics New Zealand said on Friday – or 37 percent of the total value of exports.
The headline figure was well shy of forecasts for a shortfall of NZ$625 million following the NZ$472 million deficit in August.
Exports were down 5.3 percent on year to NZ$3.61 billion – topping forecasts for NZ$3.50 billion and up from NZ$3.52 billion in the previous month.
Imports surged an annual 23.0 percent to NZ$4.97 billion versus forecasts for NZ$4.20 billion and up sharply from NZ$4.00 billion a month earlier.
For the third quarter of 2014, the seasonally adjusted value of exported goods fell 3.0 percent to NZ$12 billion. Imports climbed 3.7 percent, to NZ$13 billion.
The fall in exports follows a 7.5 percent decline in Q2. Falls for both quarters were led by milk powder, butter, and cheese; and logs, wood, and wood articles.
“This is the first quarter since September 2013 where exports to Australia were greater than to China,” international statistics manager Jason Attewell said. “China’s rise to being our number one export market coincided with record dairy exports (driven by both prices and volumes) in the year to the September 2014 quarter.”
The rise in imports was led by capital goods, mainly influenced by imports of large aircraft in the September 2014 quarter. Excluding these aircraft, seasonally adjusted imports showed little change, at 0.2 percent.
The seasonally adjusted trade balance for the September 2014 quarter was a deficit of $1.0 billion, equivalent to 8.6 percent of exports.
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