New Zealand's Monthly Trade Balance Swings to Deficit

By Dow Jones Business News, 
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By Lucy Craymer

WELLINGTON, New Zealand--New Zealand's monthly goods trade balance swung to a deficit in July as exports fell on year for the first time in 11 months.

The country recorded a 692 million New Zealand dollar (US$576 million) trade deficit for July. However, the balance for the 12 months to July 31 remained in surplus at NZ$1.29 billion, Statistics New Zealand said Tuesday.

The median expectation in a survey of nine economists by The Wall Street Journal was for a deficit of NZ$500 million in July, and a NZ$1.46 billion surplus for the 12-month period.

Exports totaled NZ$3.7 billion in July, down 3.3% on the year and 11.3% lower on the month. "Goods exports decreased over a range of commodities but the fall was led by pine logs," Jason Attewell, international statistics manager at Statistics New Zealand, said.

While there were small rises in milk powder, butter and cheese exports, these were offset by larger falls in other commodities. New Zealand exports do have a seasonal factor, with dairy often falling off at this time of year due to calving reducing milk supply.

However, prices for dairy have fallen sharply over recent months as demand for products wanes and there is ample supply in the market. Exports to China, the country's largest trading partner, were down 5.4% on July 2013, but for the 12 months ended July 31 were 47.3% higher for the prior 12-month period.

Imports totaled NZ$4.4 billion in July, down 4.8% on the year but up 11.7% on the month.

Write to Lucy Craymer at lucy.craymer@wsj.com, @lucy_craymer


  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
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