25 Nov 2011

Prediction trade surplus will come under further pressure

7:31 am on 25 November 2011

The trade surplus will come under further pressure, due to slowing global growth and moderating commodity prices.

Official figures show a trade deficit of $282 million in October with the growth in imports, like petrol and fertilizer, rising faster than exports of crude oil and meat and wool.

On an annual basis, the trade surplus narrowed to $627 million.

Goldman Sachs economist Philip Borkin says food exports should hold up reasonably well, but slowing global demand will hurt the trade balance.

He says in the last month dairy and meat volumes slowed slightly, but agricultural production had been exceptionally strong earlier in the year so it was coming off high levels.

Mr Sachs says agricultural export volumes are less sensitive to the global growth cycle than, for example, tourism or forestry exports.

He says that insulates New Zealand to a degree, particularly compared to Asian trading partners which export higher value products that are much more cyclical.

But Mr Sachs says New Zealand can still be exposed to a slowing global economy and if things continue to deteriorate off shore that will have an impact on demand.

In October, exports rose 5% to $3.9 billion, and imports rose by 6% to $4.2 billion.