2 Mar 2020

Coronavirus effects on NZ exports to China revealed in first solid stats

5:39 pm on 2 March 2020

The Covid-19 coronavirus has cost about $300 million in lost exports to China in the past month, new statistics suggest.

An aerial view of a container ship carrying exports (file)

Photo: 123RF

Stats NZ compared the earnings for the past four weeks against the same period last year and estimated how much might have been earned if previous export growth rates had continued.

In the first hard numbers to give a partial picture of the virus's effect on exports to our biggest trade partner, the agency said exports to China were at $1.1 billion, down 8 percent or $93m on the same time in 2019.

The largest falls were in meat, seafood, and forestry.

It said if past growth rates had continued then expected earnings would have been about $1.4bn.

Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus:

Stats NZ said overall exports for the rest of the world were little changed last month.

The figures followed a tough day for New Zealand's stock markets, with the NZX top-50 index falling more than 400 points, or 3.5 percent by midday, in its worst session in 16 months.

It clawed back some of those losses to close 1.4 percent - or 158 points - down from yesterday, making it the sixth consecutive fall from a record high just over a week ago.

The slide mirrored falls in markets around the world, although some Asian markets lifted today on hopes that central banks around the world would cut interest rates to prop up economies.

Supermarket shelves throughout Auckland were also stripped over the weekend, following the first confirmed Covid-19 case in New Zealand.

People were warned against panic buying, although the Food and Grocery Council said it was confident of New Zealand's supply chains.

Foodstuffs, which operates New World and Pak'nSave supermarkets, today said shoppers should not panic about toilet paper, bread or water stocks because those were all made in New Zealand.

A spokesperson said teams had been working around the clock to restock stores and support staff who had worked to meet customer demands.

They said hand sanitiser and face masks were in high demand along with the essentials like bread, milk and toilet paper.

Foodstuffs said the essentials were not under threat, and stockpiling did put stores under unnecessary pressure and delays.

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