The trade balance dipped to a $641 million deficit last month, but recorded a surplus of $1.1 billion (2.3 percent of exports) for the year to date, according to Statistics New Zealand.
In August 2011, there was a trade deficit of $641 million, or 19 percent of the value of exports. The August month is normally in the red, and this month’s result compares with an average deficit of 27 percent of exports for the previous five Augusts.
The values of imported and exported goods were both higher compared to the same time last year; the seasonally adjusted value of exports was down from July but imports increased.
Imports climbed 15 percent from August 2010, with the $523 million increase led by petroleum and products (56 percent), and mechanical machinery and equipment. Imported railway vehicles also contributed significantly.
Government statistician Geoff Bascand said the $313 million rise in exports was mainly due to meat and edible offal, crude oil, and milk powder, butter, and cheese, which all rose by similar amounts.
China was the largest market for increased exports, up 47 percent ($117 million); exports to Australia were up 12 percent, due primarily to crude oil exports for refining. Gold kiwifruit helped lift exports to South Korea by 30 percent or $28 millio.
The trend in export values has increased 26 percent since its most recent low in October 2009, and continues to be near a record high.
Import values have been flat since March. They had mostly been rising (up 21 percent) since a recent low point in September 2009.
Compared with August 2010, key increases in imported goods came from mechanical and electrical machinery and equipment, railway vehicles, and sugars and sugar confectionery .
Imports from Canada rose $39 million or 120 percent mostly due to an increase in fertilisers, while the US, our third-largest import partner, recorded a decrease of $24 million (6.1 percent).