In March 2013, merchandise exports were valued at $4.4 billion, up $213 million (5.1 percent) from March 2012. The rise in exports was led by meat and edible offal. Meat and edible offal exports rose $100 million (18 percent) to $662 million. Logs, wood, and wood articles rose $73 million (28 percent) to $336 million, due to pine logs. Ships, boats, and floating structures rose $41 million due to exports of pleasure boats, up $39 million. There were no similar exports in March 2012.
Milk powder, butter, and cheese, New Zealand's largest export commodity group, showed little change, increasing $1.3 million (0.1 percent).
Petroleum and products other than crude oil showed the largest decrease, down $37 million (89 percent). This was led by partly refined petroleum, down $18 million, and bituminous road surface preparations, down $16 million.
Exports to China showed the largest increase, up $278 million (47 percent). This was led by meat and edible offal, up $91 million (247 percent), whole milk powder, up $78 million (66 percent), and pine logs, up $74 million (102 percent).
In March 2013, the value also rose for exports to the United States – up $63 million (16 percent), led by boneless frozen beef cuts, up $56 million (62 percent) and to Fiji – up $40 million, due to exports of pleasure boats. Japan showed the largest decrease, down $46 million (13 percent), led by naphthalene, down $26 million.
In the March 2013 month, imported goods were valued at $3.7 billion, down $319 million (7.9 percent) from March 2012.
The value of petroleum and products fell $139 million (14 percent) in March 2013 compared with March 2012. The fall was mainly due to a decrease in crude oil, down $191 million. This was partly offset by an increase in automotive diesel, up $43 million, and regular motor spirit, up $26 million.
Other key changes in import values were seen for mechanical machinery and equipment – down $50 million (10 percent), led by excavators and cranes; salt, earths, stone, lime, and cement – down $24 million (42 percent), due to natural calcium phosphates and vehicles – up $16 million (4.1 percent), due to goods transport vehicles.
The seasonally adjusted value of exported goods rose 0.8 percent in the March 2013 quarter. This follows a fall of 2.9 percent in the December 2012 quarter. Milk powder, butter, and cheese led the increase in the March 2013 quarter – values were up 3.5 percent, and quantities were up 3.6 percent.
The seasonally adjusted value of imported goods decreased 0.2 percent in the March 2013 quarter, following a 1.6 percent fall in the December 2012 quarter.
The seasonally adjusted trade balance for the March 2013 quarter was a surplus of $52 million, equivalent to 0.4 percent of exports. This follows a deficit of $59 million in the December 2012 quarter.
China overtook Australia as top export destination for the first time in the March 2013 quarter.