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Commodities push New Zealand export volumes to two-decade high

03-01-2012 13:39 BJT

WELLINGTON, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Dairy products and total export volumes from New Zealand in the last three months of 2011 were at their highest levels in more than two decades, the government statistics agency announced Thursday.

The terms of trade, which measures the changing volume of imports that can be funded by a fixed volume of exports, rose 2.9 percent in the quarter ending December with export volumes at their highest level since Statistics New Zealand began the series in 1990.

"The rise was mainly due to dairy products, such as milk powder, " industry and labor statistics manager Neil Kelly said in a statement from Statistics New Zealand.

Import volumes fell 2.1 percent in the quarter, but remained relatively high, with the drop led by intermediate goods, used as inputs for producing other goods, and consumption goods.

Partly offsetting the decreases was an increase in capital goods, the tangible assets used to produce goods or services.

Prices for exported goods rose 1.7 percent in the quarter, reflecting price changes for meat, which was up 3.4 percent; fruit, which was up 9.6 percent; and dairy, down 1.1 percent.

Prices for imported goods rose 3.2 percent, driven by petroleum and petroleum products, which were up 3.9 percent; mechanical machinery, up 3.7 percent; transport equipment, up 3.2 percent; and food and beverages, up 3.3 percent.

The merchandise terms of trade fell 1.4 percent in the quarter due to export prices rising less than import prices, meaning 1.4 percent less merchandise imports could be funded by a fixed quantity of merchandise exports than in the September quarter.

In the December quarter, the trade weighted index of the New Zealand dollar fell 4.6 percent, which tended to push up export and import prices.

An Economic Update issued by the ASB bank said much of the rise in export prices could be attributed to the weaker New Zealand dollar, which fell 6.1 percent against the U.S. dollar in the quarter.

Outside the exchange rate movements, however, global prices for most New Zealand export commodities fell from "very elevated levels," said the update.

Dairy prices were a "key area of weakness" in the quarter, and the recent strength of the New Zealand dollar was likely to erode returns in the early part of this year, it said.

The terms of trade continued "to gently unwind from the June quarter peak," but remained at very strong levels, which represented New Zealand's favorable purchasing power position with the rest of the world.

"The high level of the terms of trade underscores the support export incomes are providing to (New Zealand's) gradual economic recovery. While there is scope for export prices to ease further over the coming year, we continue to expect the terms of trade will remain at supportive levels," said the update.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: Xinhua

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