High energy costs have been blamed for New Zealand going from a trade surplus a year ago to a deficit in the June quarter.
The latest trade stats are in stark contrast to Australia, where export values have ballooned.
New Zealand's total exports of goods and services for the June quarter were $23.3 billion, up from $21.1b one year ago.
But total imports for the June quarter rose to $25.5b, well up from $20.4b in the same quarter last year.
Even though the volume of imports fell, a leap in energy costs pushed up overall import costs, ANZ Research said after Stats NZ released the trade data today.
ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner told the Herald supply chain concerns linked to the pandemic had driven many manufacturers and retailers to import much more than usual.
"The winners in the last two years are the companies that have got stock."
As a result, warehousing was the best performing part of the commercial property sector for much of the Covid-19 era.
But Zollner said the Reserve Bank was now trying to curb inflation and get demand below supply.
"It's a logical time to start looking at your inventories and looking for efficiencies."
Zollner said New Zealand's trade stats were wildly different from recent Australian data.
Australia posted a gargantuan A$17.67b ($19.78b) surplus for June 2022, and some commentators have attributed that to wheat, coal, liquefied natural gas and gold exports.
ANZ Research economists said for New Zealand, both import and export prices rose in the June quarter compared to a year earlier. Total two-way trade for the quarter was $48.9b.
"Energy prices, which influence imports, have lifted even more quickly than the prices of the food and fibre we export," the economists said in an ANZ Research report today.
"The price of imports increased significantly, with petrol prices lifting 42 per cent and non-fuel crude materials up 26 per cent, reflecting global energy shortages."
And New Zealand could face more trade challenges for months to come.
ANZ Research said export prices were likely to ease slightly in the second half of the year, whereas recent increases in import prices were expected to persist.
ASB Bank said export volumes were likely to increase slowly, while slowing domestic demand would stifle import demand over time.
"To the surprise of absolutely no one, both export and import good prices continue to lift, up 3.7 per cent and 6.5 per cent, respectively," ASB economist Nathaniel Keall said.
He said the increases were testament to the lower Kiwi dollar, which eased from the 0.7000 USD mark in early April to 0.6200 and had moved lower since then.
"Gains for import prices outpaced those for exports by a significant margin, worsening New Zealand's terms of trade by 2.4 per cent," the ASB economist added.
Stats NZ said among various export categories, the value of transportation services shot up by $127m to $501m, compared to the June 2021 quarter.
The value of travel services rose $63m to $1.4b and the value of other business services rose $79m to $660m.
Telecommunications, computer and information services exports were up $57m to $435m.
Charges for the use of intellectual property fell slightly, by $1m to $436m.
A big jump in one import category - transportation services - dwarfed many of the other stats. Imports in the sector rose $796m, compared to the June 2021 quarter, to $1.8b.
The cost of travel services rose by $207m to $559m.
And the cost of other imported business services rose $189m to $1.3b.
Insurance and pension services imports were up $92m, to $659m.
And telecommunications, computer, and information services were also up compared to the June 2021 quarter, rising by $56m to $799m.