For the fourth consecutive month China remains New Zealand's top trading partner, with combined exports and imports hitting $26.8 billion, for the year to March.
From 2008 to 2017, Australia was the country's top trading partner and NZ maintained a surplus of exports, against imports, from them.
New Zealand is still in surplus with both China and Australia, importing less than it exported.
Total exports for the year hit $77.9 B, with dairy the largest contributor, at $14.1 B, or 18.2%, to numerous countries. However, while the European Union is NZ's third-largest market for trading goods and services, there exists a deficit, in that the country's exports there are $8.8 B, but imports tally up to $13.3 B, Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) data shows.
SNZ's international statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said on recent history New Zealand had continued to import more from the EU than we have exported to them, while our trade balance with China switched from a deficit to a surplus in 2013.
China, Australia, and the European Union account for nearly half of New Zealand's total trade with the rest of the world. For the year to March almost one-fifth of NZ's imports came from the European Union, at $13.4 B, the imports being vehicles, parts, and accessories, mechanical machinery and equipment and transportation services, Dolan said.
By commodities, milk powder, butter and cheese was top export earner at $14.2 B, business and personal travel next at $10.8 B, or 14% of the total, meat and edible offal $6.7 B, or 8.7%, logs and wood at $4.8 B, or 6.2%, and education and travel $4 B, or 5.2%.
The top import categories were vehicles, parts, and accessories stood at $8.4 B, 11.4%, mechanical machinery and equipment $8.1 B, or 11%, business and other personal travel at $6.17 B, or 8.4%, petroleum products $5.51 B, or 7.5% and electrical machinery and equipment, at $4.67 B, or 6.3%.
*Simon Hartley is senior business reporter and assistant chief reporter for the Otago Daily Times.