Falling log prices tip NZ into July trade deficit

A straddle carrier lifts shipping containers at the Fergusson container terminal at the Ports of Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson.
A straddle carrier lifts shipping containers at the Fergusson container terminal at the Ports of Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson.

New Zealand posted its first monthly trade deficit in nine months in July, led by falling prices for export logs and wood products.

Statistics New Zealand said the country had a trade deficit of $692 million in July, bigger than the $475 million deficit forecast in a Reuters poll of economists. Exports in July fell 3.3 per cent from the same month a year earlier to $3.7 billion, lower than the $3.98 billion expected by economists in the Reuters poll. Imports dropped 4.8 per cent to $4.4 billion, close to the $4.5 billion forecast.

Falling prices for New Zealand pine log exports to China led the export declines. Exports of logs and wood products, New Zealand's third largest commodity export, fell 16 per cent to $282 million in July from the same month a year earlier while volumes were little changed.

While China remained New Zealand's largest trading partner, the country's exports to Asia's largest economy fell 5.4 per cent in July to $615 million, led by declines in pine logs and infant food.

Meanwhile, exports of milk powder, butter and cheese, New Zealand's largest commodity export, rose 0.9 per cent to $931 million in July from the year earlier month as quantities rose 16 per cent. The rise was led by milk powder, while butter and cheese fell, the statistics agency said.

Exports to Australia, New Zealand's second largest market, declined 7.1 per cent to $687 million in the month over a range of commodities, the agency said.

However exports to the US, the third largest market, jumped 18 per cent to $363 million, led by casein and caseinates and frozen beef.


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- BusinessDesk

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