The value of New Zealand exports are at an 18 month low according to figures just released.
Exports for March dropped by $400million or 8.7 per cent when compared with the same month last year, according to Statistics New Zealand’s monthly merchandise trade figures.
Sheep meat prices were down 12 per cent in April.
Exports of milk powder, butter and cheese were down 14.5 per cent, while meat exports were down 14.0 per cent.
Imports increased $48 million or 1.2 per cent and the trade balance for the March 2012 month was a surplus of $134 million, 3.2 per cent of exports. This is a much lower March surplus than usual, it compares with an average surplus of 7.8 per cent of exports in the previous five March months.
The exports figures for April are unlikely to be much better, with the ANZ Commodity Price Index for that month down 4.5 per cent on March’s level to sit at an 18-month low.
April’s drop represents the largest monthly percentage decrease in the index since February 2009. The price of sheep meat recorded the largest decrease in April, falling 12 per cent from a month earlier, to an 18-month low.
Wool prices fell nine per cent in the month, dropping to a 16-month low. Dairy prices fell six per cent in April and beef prices slipped two per cent. When converted to local prices, the ANZ NZD Commodity Price Index slipped four per cent in April, dropping to a two and a half year low.
The index has fallen a cumulative 21 per cent from its peak in March last year, although it is still 12 per cent higher than the 2000-09 decade average.
Prices of dairy products have continued to slide in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, reaching their lowest point since August 2009.
The GDT-TWI Price Index fell 2.4 per cent compared to the previous sale. The average winning price dropped to US$2,843 a metric tonne. The price of whole milk powder declined 2.2 per cent to US$2,776 a tonne and skim milk powder fell 4.6 per cent to US$2,730 a tonne. Since December the GDT-TWI has fallen in eight of the last ten auctions and it is down nearly 30 per cent from this time last year.