The trade deficit in November was a smaller-than-expected $213 million, largely because of falling dairy prices.
In November last year, record dairy exports resulted in the first surplus for a November month since 1991.
The Government statistician said a 27 percent fall in the value of dairy exports, from the record set in November, last year, led a near 10 percent fall in exports in the latest month, to $4 billion.
Imports also fell 1.3 percent to $4.2 billion, led by declines in capital goods such as aircraft.
An economist at ASB Bank Jane Turner said she still expected the trade position to deteriorate further.
On an annual basis, the deficit stood at $453 million.