New Zealand posted a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$17 million in December, Statistics New Zealand said on Thursday – following the NZ$252 million surplus in November.
Exports fell NZ$149 million or 2.7 percent on year to NZ$5.35 billion.
New Zealand’s biggest goods export, dairy products, fell NZ$377 million (19 percent) in December.
“Dairy export values and volumes both fell in December, compared with the same month a year before,” international trade manager Alasdair Allen said.
Leading the total falls in December were milk powder, down NZ$227 million, butter, down NZ$62 million, and milk fats, down NZ$51 million on the same month in 2019.
“The drop in dairy exports was mainly due to a fall in sales to New Zealand’s biggest export market, China,” Allen said.
Total dairy exports to China fell NZ$194 million (21 percent) to NZ$740 million in December. This was led by falls in milk powder, down NZ$113 million.
Imports rose NZ$213 million or 4.2 percent on year to NZ$5.33 billion.
Car imports were up NZ$106 million in December 2020 compared with December 2019.
Imports of electrical and machinery products were up NZ$90 million, and iron and steel up NZ$41 million in December.
“Monthly car imports fell sharply early in 2020 when Covid-19 first hit, but values have bounced back to more typical levels,” Allen said.
For the fourth quarter of 2020, exports were up 0.4 percent on quarter to NZ$15 billion and imports were up 4.7 percent on quarter to NZ$14 billion for a trade surplus of NZ$412 million.
For all of 2020, exports added 0.04 percent on year to NZ$60 billion and imports fell 11 percent on year to NZ$57 billion for a surplus of NZ$2.9 billion.
Imports of petroleum and products fell NZ$2.4 billion in 2020, following Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Imports of vehicle, parts, and accessories also fell, by NZ$2.1 billion. With little international travel, demand for turbojets and turbo-propellers fell, with imports of mechanical machinery and equipment down NZ$1.1 billion.
Exports of breathing equipment (respiratory equipment) were up NZ$526 million, due to high demand during the Covid-19 pandemic. Fruit exports rose NZ$525 million, driven by higher volumes and prices for kiwifruit.
Aircraft and parts rose NZ$435 million, as planes were sent to the United States for storage, during the slump in international travel. Preparations of cereals, flour, and starch, were up NZ$204 million, driven by infant formula.
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