31 Jan 2014

China now NZ's biggest export market

1:38 pm on 31 January 2014

Record sales of milk powder to China helped make the country New Zealand's largest export market.

It's the first time China has taken the top spot on an annual basis, a position which Australia has held for 25 years.

Statistics New Zealand says more than $48 billion of goods were exported in 2013, of which $10 billion worth went to China.

Container ship loaded and ready to sail from Port Taranaki.

Photo: PHOTO NZ

A record $4 billion of milk powder, or half this country's exports of the product, was sold to China.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley says while our sales to China rose 45% over the year, those to Australia are easing back 8.9% to about $9.1 billion.

"We're really seeing that divergence between that strong commodity story that's driving our exports to China but we are seeing that softer Australian economy and that high exchange rate having some impact on our exports to Australia."

China bought about 21 percent of New Zealand's exports, and provided about 17 percent of this country's imports last year.

The annual trade deficit in December stood at $259 million.