An economist says recently issued trade data highlights the increasingly important role exports will play the nation's economic recovery.
Statistics New Zealand figures released on Friday show the annual trade balance for the year to the end of May was a surplus of $91 million - the second annual surplus since July 2002.
It was driven by a jump in exports, which reached a record $4.2 billion in the month, largely due to more production of commodities like forestry, and better prices.
ASB economist Jane Turner expects the surplus to ease as agricultural production tapers off in winter months, but she says strong demand should keep commodity prices high.
She says New Zealand is benefitting from its relative proximity to China and Asia and that region is driving a lot of the global demand over recent weeks.
Ms Turner says there's been good demand for New Zealand forestry products in the last few weeks.
She says stronger export incomes are likely to be one of the key drivers of the economic recovery over the next year.