New Zealand exports flat despite commodity price falls, imports fall ahead of Christmas

Total goods exports were almost unchanged in November 2020, despite a fall in the export prices of several commodities, New Zealand’s statistics department Stats NZ said on Friday.

Total goods exports were 5.2 billion NZ dollars (3.7 billion U.S. dollars), down 0.2 percent from November 2019, it said.

Meat and offal exports were down 11 percent from November 2019. Meat products are New Zealand’s second-largest export commodity group behind dairy products, statistics showed.

Beef and sheep meat export values were down 39 million NZ dollars and 29 million NZ dollars, respectively. Quantities of both beef and sheep meat were up on the same month of the previous year, Stats NZ said.

“New Zealand meat exporters sold more for less,” international trade manager Alasdair Allen said in a statement.
Other export commodities to fall included crude oil and mechanical machinery and equipment, Allen said.

The falls were offset by rises across a range of commodities, including aircraft and parts, respiratory equipment, infant formula, and exports of live cattle, he said.

Live dairy and breeding cattle exports to China resumed in November, following new regulations introduced by the Ministry for Primary Industries for the safe transport of livestock by sea, after the sinking of a livestock ship in September, Allen said.

Live cattle exports were worth 68 million NZ dollars in November 2020, up from 62 million NZ dollars from the same month in 2019, statistics showed.

“This is the second-highest value for live cattle exports this year, after 66 million NZ dollars’ worth of animals were exported in August,” Allen said.

“The highest monthly export value for live cattle was almost 100 million NZ dollars in August 2014,” he said.

November is typically one of the three highest months by both value and quantity for total exports of dairy products, milk powder, butter, and cheese, New Zealand’s largest export commodity group, according to Stats NZ.

Imports fell over 1 billion NZ dollars in November 2020, with large falls for cars, fuels, and other commodities, partly offset by a lift in cell phone imports, Stats NZ said.

The total value of monthly goods imports in November 2020 fell 17 percent to 5 billion NZ dollars from near-record monthly imports in November 2019.

“The fall in imports coincides with disruptions to global supply chains and delays at New Zealand ports,” Allen said, adding November is typically a strong month for imports, but reduced air and sea freight capacity may have limited imports for a range of products.

New Zealanders spent heavily on things like furniture and electrical goods in November, highlighting strong demand, but new supplies of imports have been held up, with delays in getting containers across the wharf especially at Auckland, he said.

One of the few import lines to increase in November was cell phones, up 46 million NZ dollars on the same month in 2019, reflecting strong demand in stores, according to Stats NZ.

“Shoppers spent more on goods such as cell phones and laptops in November,” Allen said. (Xinhua)