27 Mar 2014

Record trade surplus in February

4:35 pm on 27 March 2014

New Zealand recorded its highest ever trade surplus for a February month, driven by China's demand for milk powder, logs and meat.

Official figures show a surplus of $818 million last month, almost double that of February last year.

China's importance as the main destination for this country's exports continues unabated.

Exports rose 17 percent to $4.6 billion last month, due to more sales of milk powder, logs and sheepmeat.

China accounted for a quarter of that, along with 44 percent of all milk powder, butter, and cheese exports.

It's also New Zealand's biggest import partner, including of mobile phones, accounting for 17 percent of all goods coming into the country.

Total imports rose 8 percent to $3.7 billion.

On an annual basis, New Zealand posted a surplus of $649 million.

Manufacturing, much of which still goes to Australia, did not fare as well, with electrical machinery and equipment slumping by a fifth, due in part to a high dollar that has risen 15 percent against its Australian counterpart in the past year.

Analysts say China's strong demand for primary products is supporting high prices, and will boost New Zealand incomes, particularly in the rural sector, in the coming months.