Milk powder exports boost trade surplus
New Zealand ran a trade surplus of $523 million in December, as exports to China boomed, especially for milk powder.
For December 2013, total exports jumped $658 million (16 per cent) compared with the same month last year.
Imports were up even more, rising $669 million (19 per cent).
The trade balance for December was a surplus of $523 million (11 per cent of exports).
That topped off a stellar year for exports, led by milk powder sales to the booming China market.
For the full calendar year, export goods jumped $2 billion to $48.1b in total, with most of the increase from milk powder, Statistics NZ industry and labour statistics manager Louise Holmes-Oliver said.
"Almost half of our milk powder exports went to China."
In the year, New Zealand sent $10b worth of goods to China, including $4b of milk powder, a record level.
"China became our top annual export destination in 2013, a spot Australia had held since the year ended September 1989," Holmes-Oliver said. "For imports, China's been our main partner since December 2011."
Total imports for the December 2013 year were up $1.1b, to $48.3b.