New Zealand posted a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$85 million in July, Statistics New Zealand said on Thursday – representing 1.8 percent of exports.
The headline figure was well ahead of forecasts for a deficit of NZ$200 million following the NZ$242 million surplus in June.
It also marked just the 11th time since 1960 that the month of July saw a surplus, the bureau said.
“July months are typically deficits,” overseas trade manager Tehseen Islam said. “This is the first July surplus since 2012 ($98 million). This month’s surplus compares with a NZ$351 million deficit in July 2016, in part reflecting a large aircraft import back then.”
Exports surged an annual 178.0 percent or NZ$668 million to NZ$4.63 billion, beating expectations for NZ$4.42 billion and down from NZ$4.70 billion in the previous month.
Exports to China surged NZ$345 million (51 percent) to NZ$1.0 billion.
Milk powder, butter, and cheese led the rise – up NZ$426 million (51 percent) to NZ$1.3 billion.
The rise in dairy was the largest for any month since March 2014. The value of whole milk powder per ton was one-third higher than a year ago, while the quantity was up 12 percent. International dairy product auction prices rose sharply in the second half of 2016.
Imports advanced 5.4 percent on year or NZ$232 million to NZ$4.55 billion versus forecasts for NZ$4.60 billion and up from NZ$4.46 billion a month earlier.
Vehicles, parts, and accessories led the rise – up NZ$154 million (25 percent) to NZ$768 million. Passenger motor cars exceeded NZ$500 million for the second consecutive month (NZ$502 million).
Aircraft and parts fell, due to a large import in July 2016.
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