24 May 2013

Drought still impacting on trade figures

5:57 pm on 24 May 2013

The impact of the drought continues to affect New Zealand's trade balance.

Official figures show a surplus of $157 million in April, the fourth consecutive year that exports have exceeded imports for that month.

Exports rose 2% to $4 billion, led by frozen lamb and beef cuts.

Economists say the drought prompted farmers to send stock to slaughter early and there was a large jump in the number of lambs and cattle sent to abattoirs in the first three months of the year.

Imports rose by 7% to $3.8 billion, led by fuel and cars.

On an annual basis, the trade balance shows a deficit at $694 million.

ANZ senior economist Mark Smith said the surplus was weaker than market expectations.

More goods were exported to Australia than to China last month, but in the 12 months to April, exports to China rose, while exports to Australia fell.

Mr Smith said the export sector is increasingly reliant on emerging economies.