New Zealand posed a merchandise trade shortfall of NZ$566 million in January, Statistics New Zealand said on Tuesday – representing 13 percent of exports.
That missed expectations for a flat reading following the NZ$596 million deficit in December.
Exports were up 9.5 percent on year to NZ$4.31 billion, shy of forecasts for NZ$4.58 billion and down from NZ$5.49 billion in the previous month.
Milk powder, butter, and cheese led the rise, up NZ$101 million (8.0 percent) to NZ$1.4 billion.
Milk powder rose NZ$61 million (8.7 percent); the quantity rose 9.7 percent. Dairy fats (including butter) rose NZ$21 million (7.5 percent); the quantity fell 21 percent.
Meat and edible offal rose NZ$100 million (17 percent) to NZ$689 million. This was led by lamb – up NZ$58 million (26 percent), and beef – up NZ$21 million (8.4 percent). Exports of lamb to the EU, and sheep meat (including lamb and mutton) to China, rose.
Logs, wood, and wood articles rose NZ$59 million (25 percent) to NZ$292 million.
Preparations of milk, cereals, flour, and starch rose NZ$53 million (69 percent). This group includes infant formula.
Crude oil exports fell NZ$65 million to almost zero.
Imports spiked an annual 17 percent to NZ$4.87 billion versus expectations for NZ$4.60 billion and down from NZ$4.89 billion.
The largest changes in import values were:
Mechanical machinery and equipment led the rise – up NZ$133 million (23 percent) to NZ$700 million. The increase was across a range of commodities, including turbo-jets and food processing machinery.
Petroleum and products rose NZ$88 million, led by diesel (up NZ$57 million) and motor spirit (up NZ$24 million). Imports of these products from the Republic of Korea rose NZ$113 million, led by diesel.
Ships, boats, and floating structures rose NZ$78 million.
Vehicles, parts, and accessories (our largest import commodity group) rose NZ$42 million (6.8 percent) to NZ$659 million.
The annual trade deficit was NZ$3.2 billion in January 2018, up from NZ$2.9 billion in December 2017, and down from NZ$3.4 billion in January 2017.