27 Apr 2016

Annual trade deficit hits 7-year high

3:00 pm on 27 April 2016

The annual trade deficit has hit its highest level in nearly seven years, with sharp falls in dairy products.

Port of Tauranga

Annual imports have jumped to more than $52 billion. Photo: 123rf

Official figures show imports exceeded exports to the tune of $3.8 billion in the year to March, the largest shortfall since the $4.1b registered in April 2009.

Exports edged down to $48.8b, with sharp falls in dairy products and oil offset by gains in meat and fruit.

In contrast, imports jumped 3 percent to $52.7b.

Despite slumping oil prices, firms spent more on foreign-made machinery and equipment, while consumers bought more cars, furniture and toys and games.

China remained the country's top trade partner for both exports and imports, followed by Australia.

Analysts expect the deficit to widen further on the back of lower dairy prices, recent weakness in meat exports, and solid household demand for imports.