N.Z. Annual Trade Gap Shrinks


New Zealand's annual trade deficit was the narrowest in more than two years in November as record prices for dairy products buoyed exports.

The trade shortfall narrowed to NZ$5.65 billion ($4.3 billion) in the 12 months ended Nov. 30 from NZ$5.83 billion in October, Statistics New Zealand said today in Wellington. The gap was the narrowest since July 2005.

Rising exports, which make up 30 percent of the $104 billion economy, may buoy economic growth as the central bank maintains record-high interest rates to curb domestic spending. Exports are being underpinned by surging prices for butter and cheese in world markets, and output from the new Tui oil field.

Exports gained 18 percent in November from a year earlier to NZ$3.3 billion. Overseas sales were a record NZ$3.43 billion in October. The statistics agency only provides volume data at the end of each quarter.

Sales of milk powder, butter and cheese, which make up almost one-fifth of overseas shipments, rose 48 percent from a year earlier to a record NZ$915 million, the agency said. Dairy exports in the 12 months ended Nov. 30 jumped 14 percent to NZ$7.04 billion.

Exports of petroleum products were worth NZ$185 million compared with only NZ$3 million a year earlier after the Tui field began producing in July.

Prices of commodities that make up 70 percent of total overseas sales have been rising in global markets, led by demand for dairy products. The international price of New Zealand commodity exports gained 0.8 percent in November to a record, according to an index compiled by ANZ National Bank Ltd.

Imports rose 9.4 percent to NZ$3.95 billion in November from a year earlier, buoyed by purchases of aircraft, machinery, cars and fuel. Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard raised interest rates four times last year to a record to curb consumer spending, which may reduce demand for imported computers and mobile telephones.


TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
1/6/2008 5:35:52 PM