New Zealand posted a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$263 million in April, Statistics New Zealand said on Thursday – representing 5.2 percent on exports.
That exceeded forecasts for a NZ$198 million surplus following the NZ$156 million deficit in March.
Exports were up 7.3 percent to NZ$5.05 billion, also topping expectations for NZ$4.85 billion and up from NZ$4.79 billion in the previous month.
Kiwifruit exports rose NZ$197 million (82 percent on year) to reach NZ$438 million, marking a new high for any month.
“Kiwifruit exports were up for all New Zealand’s principal kiwifruit markets – China, the European Union, and Japan,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “In April, the first month of the export season, the gold variety made up nearly three-quarters of the total value of kiwifruit exports.”
Across all markets, gold kiwifruit was up NZ$148 million (86 percent) in value compared with April 2017, led by an NZ$85 million increase to China. Green kiwifruit also rose (up NZ$50 million or 83 percent), led by a NZ$25 million increase to the European Union.
Annual exports of kiwifruit in the year ended April 2018 were NZ$1.9 billion, up NZ$153 million (9.0 percent) from the year ended April 2017.
The other main contributors to April’s export rise were meat and edible offal (up NZ$94 million), and milk powder, butter, and cheese (up NZ$68 million).
Lamb (up NZ$42 million) led the rise in meat exports, closely followed by beef (up NZ$41 million). Lamb exports rose because of higher prices, with a slight fall in quantity; in contrast, beef exports rose because of a higher quantity, with a slight fall in prices.
Butter led the rise in dairy exports (up NZ$46 million), partly reflecting higher prices than in April 2017.
Imports jumped 15 percent to NZ$4.79 billion versus forecasts for NZ$4.65 billion and down from NZ$4.95 billion a month earlier.
The leading contributor to the rise was an increased value of petroleum and products (up NZ$221 million or 56 percent), led by crude oil (up NZ$130 million).
Imports of crude oil and other petroleum products tend to fluctuate from month to month. The quantity of crude oil imported in April 2018 rose 23 percent from April 2017, but prices also rose – an estimated 28 percent.
Vehicles, parts, and accessories (up NZ$179 million), and mechanical machinery and equipment (up NZ$108 million) were the other main contributors to the imports rise.