The media was fed some sobering financial news this week with Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) data showing the country had a record merchandise trade deficit of $1.484 billion in August.
The data reportedly missed a target forecast for a shortfall of $925 milliono, following a revised target deficit of $196 M in July.
The international website markets.businessinsider.com said the average monthly deficit in August over the last five years was $$1 B.
“This month's rise in imports to near record levels occurs at the time of year when exports are typically at a low point,” said SNZ’s international statistics manager Tehseen Islam.
The Government department reported that exports were up 9.9% year on year in August to $4.05 B - missing forecasts for $4.4 B and down sharply from $5.34 B in the previous month.
The leading contributor to the rise was meat products and edible offal, up $137 M (43%). This increase was led by sheep meat (up $83 M or 55%) and beef (up $45 M or 31%).
Imports jumped an annual 14% to $5.54 B versus expectations for $5.5 B - roughly unchanged from the previous month.
The leading contributor to the imports rise was petroleum, up $186 M (50%) from last year. This increase was led by crude oil (up $98 M) and diesel (up $73 M).
The website said imports of crude oil and other petroleum products tend to fluctuate from month to month. The quantity of crude oil imported in August 2018 fell 13% from August 2017, but prices rose by about 60%.
Imports of vehicles, parts, and accessories also rose in August, up $55 M. Imports of buses, cars, and trucks all had similar contributions to this rise.
The annual trade deficit was $4.8 B in August, up from $3.1 B in August 2017.