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New Zealand's trade deficit record high in January

Staff Writer |
New Zealand had its largest goods deficit for any January month, at 914 million New Zealand dollars in January, Stats NZ said Wednesday.

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"Both imports and exports were up compared with January 2018. However, this month's large trade deficit reflects that imports are rising much faster than exports," international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said.

The previous record was an 894 million New Zealand dollars deficit in January 2006.

While there was a large deficit in January, monthly deficits typically peak at even higher levels in August and September, when dairy exports are relatively low.

In January 2019, imports rose 379 million New Zealand dollars or 7.7 percent from January 2018, to reach 5.3 billion New Zealand dollars. Exports were up 128 million New Zealand dollars or 3.0 percent, to reach 4.4 billion New Zealand dollars.

The increase in imports was spread across a range of commodities, with petroleum and products leading the rise, up 81 million New Zealand dollars or 13 percent from January 2018, to 725 million New Zealand dollars. Crude oil was up 39 million New Zealand dollars and diesel up 34 million New Zealand dollars.

Imports from all top import partners increased; the largest rises were from China and the European Union. Exports of milk powder, butter and cheese to China rose 9.1 million New Zealand dollars from January 2018, to reach 200 million New Zealand dollars.

"The increases in both milk powder and milk fats were driven by increased export quantities," Islam said. "Milk powder prices were similar to January 2018, while milk fat prices fell."

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