7 Jan 2010

Trade deficit falls to lowest in seven years

6:00 pm on 7 January 2010

New Zealand's trade deficit has fallen to its lowest level in more than seven years.

Statistics New Zealand says the shortfall was $846 million in the year ending November, compared with just over $1 billion for the year ending in October.

The total value of exports fell 17%, as milk powder, butter and cheese exports dropped by a quarter, but the value of imports fell even more - by 22% - largely because of cheaper oil.

The November deficit of $269 million - more than half October's deficit - was lower than most economists were predicting.

Darren Gibbs, the chief economist at Deutsche Bank, says the strong New Zealand dollar is hitting export earnings while the recession has curbed demand for imports, particularly from retailers in the lead-up to Christmas.