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NZ November trade deficit narrows

New Zealand's trade deficit narrowed in November as a stink bug discovery reduced imports, while exports rose sharply. 

The November deficit was a seasonally adjusted $402 million versus a deficit of $707 million in October, Statistics New Zealand said. The annual deficit was $5.4 billion, also in line with expectations.

November imports eased 0.6 percent on the year to $5.8 billion with the largest fall being in passenger motor car imports, down 35 percent due to a delay in final unloading of one cargo ship in November.

“In a repeat of events in February this year, another vessel was ordered to leave New Zealand waters in November due to the discovery of stink bugs,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said.

In late November, Biosecurity New Zealand directed a vehicle carrier to leave New Zealand waters following the discovery of stink bugs and other regulated pests.

Islam noted, however, after some car shipments were blocked in February, car imports bounced back in the following months.

Aircraft and parts posted the next largest decline, down 48 percent from the same month last year at $153 million. Aircraft imports are irregular and can cause large rises or falls in monthly figures.

The fall in imports was offset by rises across a range of other commodities, including fertilisers, soya bean oil cake, and palm oil cake, Stats NZ said.

Monthly goods exports were up 71 percent at $4.9 billion.

Exports of aluminium and beef were the leading contributors to the rise in exports, with aluminium up $59 million, or 142 percent, from November 2017 when values and quantities had been unusually low. 

Meat and edible offal rose $56 million, or 11 percent, to $553 million. Beef rose $51 million, or 28 percent, in value and 30 percent in quantity. The largest rise in beef exports was to China, up $32 million.

Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports rose $30 million, or 2.1 percent, to $1.5 billion.

Fruit exports climbed $32 million, or 60 percent, to $86 million. That was led by green kiwifruit, up $34 million, or 167 percent in value and 162 percent in quantity. 

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