Exports edged down 0.5 percent year-on-year to NZD 5.48 billion. It was the second-highest value on record for monthly total exports, the previous high was in December 2017. Sales were mainly dragged by meat & edible offal (-9.7 percent to NZD 649 million); aluminium & aluminium articles (-40.9 percent to NZD 101 million); and milk powder, butter & cheese (-0.9 percent to NZD 1860 million). In contrast, exports rose for crude oil (117.2 percent to NZD 146 million) and preparation of milk, cereals, flour & starch (54 percent to NZD 190 million). Among top trade partners, sales dropped to the US (-8.8 percent); Japan (-19.5 percent) and South Korea (-7.5 percent). On the other hand, exports to China (+14.3 percent); Australia (+14.4 percent) and the UK (+13.2 percent) increased.
Imports rose 6.6 percent year-on-year to NZD 5.22 billion, mainly driven by higher purchases of petroleum & products (58.1 percent to NZD 684 million), namely crude oil (80 percent) and petroleum other than crude (17 percent); and aircrafts & parts (509.3 percent to NZD 180 million). Meanwhile, purchases declined for vehicles, parts & accessories (-1.3 percent to NZD 735 million); mechanical machinery & equipment (-3.7 percent to NZD 774 million); food industry residues, wastes & fodder (-47.1 percent to NZD 53 million) and fertilizers (-52.4 percent to NZD 34 million). By main destinations, imports went up from Australia (+11.6 percent), China (+6.6 percent), the US (+5.8 percent) and the EU (+4.2 percent).
The annual trade deficit widened to NZD 5.9 billion, the largest in 11 years mainly due to sharp rise in fuel and crude oil imports (+44 percent to NZD 7.7 billion).