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Trade brings home quality products, services

Trade constitutes the single largest activity in the nation’s economy, accounting for almost 60% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While exports promote national revenue, imports are also seen as an important component in international trade.

New Zealand has been a trading nation for several centuries. Historic records indicate that India was a significant trading partner.

Efforts in recent years have been directed towards achieving a Free Trade Agreement with India to tap the enormous potential that the country’s burgeoning population offers for New Zealand’s products and services.

The import market is equally dynamic with thousands of companies engaged as importers, wholesalers, shippers, shipping agents, brokers, insurers, insurance brokers and commission agents.

Petroleum and petroleum products are New Zealand’s largest imports, followed by mechanical machinery and equipment. Australia contributes 19% of New Zealand’s total import value, followed by China with 15% of imports.

Imports surge

According to Statistics New Zealand, our merchandise imports in the year ended December 2011 were valued at $46.9 billion, up $4.5 billion (11%). China and US recorded increases, partly offset by a fall in imports from Australia.

Imports from APEC countries were valued at $33.8 billion and accounted for 72% of total imports. Imports from the European Union were valued at $7.3 billion and contributed 16% of total imports.

Chinese connection

China became New Zealand’s largest source of merchandise imports in the year ended December 2011, up $677 million (10%) to $7.4 billion. The highest-value import from China was computers, up $65 million (9.6%) to $742 million. Telephones and cell phones were the second-largest import commodity and had the largest increase by value, up $148 million (36%) to $557 million.

As at the end of 2011, Australia was the second-largest source of imports, accounting for $7.4 billion (16%) of total imports. There was a decrease of $328 million (4.3%). The highest-value import from Australia was aluminium oxide, up $63 million (22%), to $346 million. Non-crude petroleum was down $97 million (33%) and motor vehicles were down $63 million (20%). Partly offsetting those decreases was wheat, up $100 million (91%).

US was New Zealand’s third-largest source of imports, up $633 million (14%) to $5billion. Aircraft, aircraft parts, and turbo-jets and turbo-propellers were the largest commodity groups by value.

Trade balance

Mineral fuels and oils were New Zealand’s highest-value imports, worth $8.1 billion, accounting for 17% of total imports. Other significant imports included machinery ($5.7 billion), vehicles ($4.4 billion), and electrical machinery ($4 billion).

According to available information, 30% of all imports were primary products and 69% were manufactured goods. The Annual merchandise trade surplus was $806 million

This compares with a surplus of $1.2 billion (2.7 percent of exports) for the year ended December 2010.

The trade surplus with Australia was $3.5 billion (32% of exports). This compares with a surplus of $2.3 billion (23% of exports) for the year ended December 2010.

There were trade deficits with New Zealand’s next-largest trading partners. The trade deficit with China was $1.6 billion (26 percent of exports) and the trade deficit with the United States was $1.0 billion (26 percent of exports).

Imported services exceed exported services by $1 billion.

New Zealand imported services to the value of $13.8 billion in the year ended December 2011. Travel services contributed $4.4 billion and transportation contributed $3.8 billion. New Zealand’s service exports were worth $12.8 billion. Travel services contributed $7.0 billion.

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