The total value of goods exported in February was $3.9 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today - 17 per cent higher than the same month last year.
"The trend in exports has grown strongly since October 2010, and has pushed through the highs of late 2008," Statistics NZ overseas trade manager Neil Kelly said.
The milk powder, butter, and cheese commodity group, particularly unsweetened whole milk powder, was the major contributor to the increase in February export values.
See the Statistics NZ release here.
ANZ economist Mark Smith said the data was in line with expectations and confirmed the "much needed rebalancing towards the earning side of the economy" was continuing.
"However, with resources needing to shift towards earthquake reconstruction later this year, a period of rising current account deficits from later this year remains in prospect," he said.
The total value of goods imported in February was $3.7 billion, up $684 million (23 per cent) from February 2010. Aircraft imports made a large contribution to this increase, said Statistics NZ.
Excluding aircraft, imports would have been $3.5 billion, an increase of $460 million (15 per cent).
In addition to aircraft, petroleum and products also contributed significantly to the increase in imports.
The trend for total merchandise imports has increased strongly since October 2010 but is still below its peak in September 2008.
In February, there was a trade surplus of $194 million (5 per cent of the value of exports). This compares with an average February surplus of 2.3 per cent of exports for the past five years.
For the year ended February 2011 there was a trade surplus of $758 million (1.7 per cent of exports).
This is the first surplus for the year ended February since 2002.
-NZ HERALD ONLINE