Fruit exports helped peg back declines in the value of dairy exports for April and delivered a trade surplus of $292 million for the month, the fourth consecutive monthly surplus.
The annual trade deficit drew back from $3.8billion in March to $3.7billion for April, data from Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) showed yesterday.
Both exports and imports for April grew, up to respectively $4.3billion and $4billion, leaving the $292million trade surplus for the month.
SNZ senior manager Nicola Growden said the rises in exports of smaller commodities, such as fruit, offset the declines in the dairy sector.
The milk powder, butter, and cheese commodity group fell 6.7% to $818 million in April compared with April last year; led by butter, down $33million, and milk powder, down $13million, but with the quantities exported up 14%.
ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said the $292million trade surplus was larger than expected, possibly assisted by the timing of Easter, he said.
“All up, April export values rose 23.4% month-on-month and seasonally adjusted, after last month’s 17.2% fall. Dairy export values rose 9.1%, recovering much of last month’s 12.1% fall,” he said.
Looking beyond the monthly volatility, Mr Penny said non-dairy export strength continued.
“In particular, fruit export values have been strong, rising 33% for the year to April compared to the same period a year ago.
“For the month, gold kiwifruit export values led the rise, lifting 53% compared to April 2015, while apple export values also [up] 29%,” he said.
Ms Growden at SNZ said consumption goods led the rise in imports, with consumer products including clothing, medicine, furniture, and household electrical appliances more than offsetting a fall in imports of aircraft in April.
The total value of goods imported in April 2016 was $4billion, up $58million or 1.5%. Consumption goods led the rise, up $129million (14%), with rises across a broad range.
Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod said underlying April’s improvement in the trade balance was a 23% gain in export values over the month, after adjusting for usual seasonal influences.
“This was contributed to by strong increases in exports of dairy products and meat, but gains were widespread,” he said.