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Vehicles and parts sales down

According to the latest figures from Stats NZ, wholesale sales values for motor vehicles and parts, including cars are trucks, fell 3.6 per cent ($98 million) in the September 2017 quarter, after a 4.0 per cent rise ($104 million) rise in the June 2017 quarter. 

Wholesale trade statistics measure the sale or resale of new or used goods to retailers, including businesses or institutional users (including government).

“Although the sales fell in motor vehicle and parts wholesaling, stocks continued to build up in the September quarter,” Ms Chapman said.

Actual wholesale vehicle and parts stocks were up 26 per cent.  

The retail trade survey for the September 2017 quarter showed that motor vehicles and parts sales also dipped slightly from previous quarters.

Even though wholesale values for vehicles and parts were down, the overall wholesale trade values in the September 2017 quarter rose 1.1 percent ($288 million) in the September 2017 quarter, after a 1.6 percent ($389 million) rise in the June 2017 quarter.

The September increase was the sixth consecutive quarterly increase, with four of the six wholesaling industries rising in the September quarter.

Out of these four the largest industry increase was in grocery, liquor, and tobacco wholesaling, up 2.8 percent ($218 million) from the June 2017 quarter. 

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Terms of Trade record growth

New Zealand’s terms of trade rose 0.7 per cent in the September quarter to reach an all-time new record, Stats NZ said today.

Terms of trade is a measure of purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad and an indicator of the state of the overall economy. It provides a more detailed reading of the flow of goods and services across the border.

The rise of 0.7 per cent this quarter was due to import prices falling more than export prices. 

Diagram for the September 2017 quarter.

Import movements in the motor vehicle industry contributed to the fall in import prices, with a 3.2 per cent decrease compared to the previous quarter ending in June 2017.

The drop in petroleum and petroleum product prices, which aren’t seasonally adjusted, had a significant effect on the overall decrease in imports. Prices fell 11.9 percent, with volumes down 5.6 percent and values down 17 percent.

The main reason, however, is due the increased price of meat and dairy exports.

“The terms of trade increased over the last year, driven by high meat and dairy prices, especially butter, to reach the highest level since the series began in March 1957,” international statistics senior manager Daria Kwon said.

“The previous high for the terms of trade was the June 1973 quarter.”

The services terms of trade rose 3.6 per cent in the September 2017 quarter. Services export prices rose 0.9 per cent, led by 3.2 per cent gain for transportation, while import prices for services imports fell by 2.6 per cent.

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EV registrations continue to grow

The week starting 30 October 2017 saw 182 electric vehicles (EVs) registered, the highest number in a single week. 

There were 430 EV registrations in October, the highest registered in a single month. 

The total number of EV registrations in New Zealand is 5,401. 

That puts the country ahead of its target of having 4000 EVs on our roads by the end of 2017. That goal was a step towards the national target of 64,000 EVs by the end of 2021, around two per cent of the number of cars in the country.

Driving an electric vehicle in New Zealand allows for 80 per cent fewer carbon emissions than a petrol or diesel car due to New Zealand’s abundant renewable electricity.

There are also about 50 fast chargers available throughout the length of the country, with more coming, giving EV driver’s greater confidence on longer journeys.


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Fall in vehicle imports from Japan

Imports from Japan were down $50 million, 14 per cent, led by a fall in motor vehicles, down $46 million in August, Stats NZ said today.

However, imports from the European Union were up $107 million (12 per cent) to $1 billion, led by a rise in vehicles, parts, and accessories, up $69 million, and Australia was up $48 million (8.2 per cent) to $637 million, with increases across a range of commodities.

Vehicles parts and accessories were little changed (up 0.1 percent).

Kiwifruit exports rose $73 million in August 2017 to reach $268 million, up 37 per cent on the same month last year.

The rise was the leading contributor to an increase of $306 million (9 per cent) in overall goods exports, which was $3.7 billion in August.

For the August 2017 year, the value of kiwifruit exports was the highest ever at $1.8 billion, up $202 million, up 13 per cent, from the previous year. The quantity of kiwifruit exports was up 9.8 per cent over the same period.

“This annual increase in kiwifruit exports was led by gold kiwifruit, in particular to China,” international statistics senior manager Daria Kwon said.

Other export goods commodities to rise in the month of August were petroleum and products including crude oil, up $54 million, food preparations including infant formula, up $44 million or 50 per cent, and mechanical machinery and equipment, up $27 million or 21 per cent.

However, Milk powder, butter, and cheese, New Zealand’s single biggest export commodity group, fell $12 million (2.6 per cent) in August 2017 compared with August 2016, reflecting a smaller quantity for the month. This month’s fall follows strong rises in recent months. International dairy product auction prices rose sharply in the second half of 2016.

Goods imports rose $301 million (6.5 per cent) to reach $4.9 billion in August 2017, led by an increase in the value of crude oil (up $147 million or 93 per cent). Imports of crude oil and other petroleum products tend to move up and down from month to month, depending on the timing of shipments.

The monthly trade deficit in August 2017 was $1.2 billion (33 per cent of exports), marginally lower than the deficit in August 2016.

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Population growth partly due to net migration

New Zealand’s population grew by 100,400 in the year ended June 2017, the largest ever increase for a June year. New Zealand’s estimated resident population was 4.79 million at 30 June 2017.

Net migration (arrivals minus departures) contributed 72,300 people to the growth, along with 28,100 from natural increase (births minus deaths).

New Zealand’s current gain from net migration equates to 15 people per 1,000 population. Much higher net migration rates were experienced in the late 1870s. Similar rates to today were also experienced in the early 1900s and early 2000s.

“Our current net migration rate is high by New Zealand standards, but historically it has fluctuated more than other countries,” population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said. “At the moment we’re experiencing rates similar to Australia’s in 2009.”

Over the last five years New Zealand’s population grew by nearly 390,000, more than the population of Christchurch city, to reach 4.79 million in June 2017, Stats NZ said today. Last year’s growth of 100,400 came from 28,100 natural increase (births minus deaths) and 72,300 net migration (arrivals minus departures).

“Half of last year’s growth was in the 15–39 age group,” population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said. “This reflects the contribution of migration to our population growth, with net migration of 50,000 among those aged 15–39 years.”

As a result of recent migration flows, the share of New Zealand’s population aged 15–39 years rose from 33 percent in 2013 to 34 percent in 2017. This is a reversal of the trend that saw the share drop from 41 percent in the mid-1980s.

Growth of the broad 65+ age group continues to accelerate, up 25,000 in the last year, as the large birth cohorts of the 1950s-early 1970s begin to reach those ages.

The population at the oldest ages is also growing, reflecting decreasing death rates at all ages over a long period of time. The 90+ population is now 30,000 compared with 20,000 in 2007. It is projected to reach 40,000 in the late 2020s and 50,000 in the early 2030s.

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Car imports top $500m in June

The value of car imports edged past $500 million for the first time in June 2017, Stats NZ said today. Total monthly imports were up 7.7 per cent, or $319 million, to $4.5 billion compared to June 2016.

Imports of cars were up $118 million, or 31 per cent, to $505 million. This boom in import value was driven by an increase in new vehicles, which grew $86 million in value year-on-year.

June was the eleventh consecutive month of year-on-year growth in value for vehicle imports, with 2,566 more cars imported compared to June 2016.

Imports of the vehicles, parts and accessories industry sector rose 36.4 per cent year-on-year to $821 million. For the 12 months ending June, vehicle imports rose 18.3 per cent to $8.5 billion.

Petrol imports were somewhat sluggish, up just two per cent to $388 million in June when compared to the same month of the previous year. For the 12 months ending June 2017, imports rose 10.3 per cent to $4.99 billion.

Dairy sales led June’s growth in export values. Year-on-year, exports grew 11 per cent, or $454 million, to $4.7 billion.

“The milk powder, butter, and cheese group continues to be a key export commodity, and accounts for over a quarter of our total exports,” international statistics senior manager Daria Kwon said.

When seasonally-adjusted, imports in the June 2017 quarter rose 2.9 per cent, or $396 million, to $14 billion. Exports rose 9.9 per cent, or $1.2 billion, to $13.5 billion.

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Migration hits another record

Annual net migration in the year ending June 2017 reached a record high of 72,300, Stats NZ said today. Migrant arrivals hit 131,400, and departures were 59,100.

Compared with the 12 months ending June 2016, this means net migration rose by 3,200.

“Annual net migration has been steadily increasing since late 2012 when we had more departures than arrivals,” population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.

“Over the past three years, annual net migration has been consistently hitting record levels due to an increasing number of non-New Zealand citizen arrivals.”

Migration in the last year was mainly driven by non-New Zealand citizens, with a net gain of 73,600 arrivals.

Departures of New Zealand citizens outnumbered arrivals, and Stats NZ measured a net loss of 1,300 citizens.

Of the 33,500 New Zealanders who left the country in the June 2017 year, 61 per cent went to Australia.

Arrivals from Asia fell 5.2 per cent to 42,975, driven by a 31.5 per cent decline in Indian migrants.

However, long-term European arrivals rose 12.1 per cent to 31,094. The highest increases were seen in the UK, up 11.9 per cent to 15,166 migrants, Germany, up 13.3 per cent to 4,592 arrivals, and France, up 11.8 per cent to 4,432.

Migration from South Africa also heavily increased in the last 12 months, up 57 per cent to 1,869 arrivals.

Visitor arrivals surged in June, up 17 per cent to 230,100. UK and Irish visitors accounted for 10 per cent of visitor numbers.

“June 2017 had the second-highest number of monthly UK and Irish visitor arrivals for a June month ever,” Dolan said.

“The highest was in June 2005 when arrivals reached 28,200, which also coincided with the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.”

Compared to June 2016, visitor arrivals were up 10.2 per cent. The number of visitors on holiday rose 12.3 per cent to 209,024, the highest segment increase, followed by visitors attending conferences and conventions, which rose 10.7 per cent.

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Falling petrol prices help stabilise CPI

There was no change in the consumer price index (CPI) in the June quarter, and was down 0.1 percent after seasonal adjustment, according to Statistics New Zealand.

The annual inflation rate was 1.7 per cent, down from 2.2 per cent in the year ending March 2017.

“Household basics like rent, food, and electricity all hit consumers’ pockets harder this quarter,” prices senior manager Jason Attewell said.

“Offsetting these price rises were falls in domestic airfares and petrol prices – which fell on average by 4 cents a litre.”

Transport prices fell 1.3 per cent, spurred on by a fall in domestic airfares (down 14.5 per cent) and petrol (down 1.9 per cent). Car rentals also saw seasonally lower prices for the quarter.

The purchase of vehicles was static, down 0.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter, but up 1.4 per cent when compared to June 2017.

The average price of a litre of 91 octane petrol was measure at $1.86 in the June 2017 quarter, down from $1.90 in March, but up from $1.78 in June 2016.

Falling transport prices offset an increase in food, which rose 0.7 per cent in the June quarter, and housing, which increased 0.8 per cent.

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Card spending remains flat in June

Spending using retail cards remained static in June at $6.8 billion when seasonally adjusted, Stats NZ reports, with the British and Irish Lions Rugby tour potentially offsetting a fall in petrol spending.

The total value of electronic card spending rose 0.1 per cent in June, following a 0.1 per cent decline in May.

“Retail spending in the June month was flat because the high hospitality spending was offset by the low fuel prices,” business indicators manager Sue Chapman said. “The increased spending on hospitality could be largely a result of the influx of British and Irish Lions fans.” 

Hospitality spending rose $23 million, or 2.4 per cent, while petrol spending was down $19 million, or 3.2 per cent. The other four industries remained virtually unchanged, including vehicles, up $1 million, or 0.3 per cent, to $167 million.

Spending on vehicles has remained flat since March, when it was valued at $166 million. Year-on-year, seasonally-adjusted spending on vehicles using electronic cards has risen five per cent.

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Migration reaches another record

Migrant arrivals numbered 130,400 in the year ending May 2017.

Annual net migration reached 72,000 in the year ending May 2017, up 100 residents to reach a new record, Stats NZ has said.

Migrant arrivals numbered 130,400 and departures 58,400 for the year.

“The continued high level of net migration in the May 2017 year was driven by non-New Zealand citizens migrating to New Zealand,” population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.

“Of the 130,400 migrant arrivals, 3 out of 4 were non-New Zealand citizens.”

New Zealand citizens leaving and returning to the country almost reached parity in the last 12 months, with slightly more departures than arrivals. Net migration of non-New Zealand citizens numbered 73,300.

Of the 98,300 non-New Zealand arrivals, 12 per cent were from China, 10 per cent from the United Kingdom and 10 per cent from Australia.

Annual arrivals from India fell 31 per cent to 9,200 in the May 2017 year, due mainly to a 40 per cent decline in annual student visa arrivals. This fall in Indian migrants was offset by rising arrivals from the UK (up 12 per cent to 15,100) and South Africa (up 59 per cent to 5000).

Work visas rose 12.8 per cent to 44,500 annually, and New Zealand and Australian citizens increased 5.5 per cent to 38,300. Residence visas were up 10.6 per cent to 16,700. However, student visas were down 14.4 per cent to 23,700.

Visitor arrivals also increased, up 10 per cent compared to May 2016. This is a new annual record high of just over 3.6 million in the 12 months ending May 2017.

Of these 3.6 million overseas visitors, 40 per cent were from Australia and 11 per cent from China. Most visitors came to New Zealand either on holiday or to visit family and friends.

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Highest current account deficit since GFC

Record imports for the first three months of 2017 has contributed to the largest quarterly account current deficit since 2008, Stats NZ said.

A total $13.614 billion worth of goods were imported into New Zealand in the March 2017 quarter, the largest on record.

“The current account balance records the value of New Zealand’s transactions with the rest of the world in goods, services, and income,” the Stats NZ report said.

“When we have a current account deficit, it implies foreigners earn more from New Zealand than we earn from overseas economies.”

New Zealand had a seasonally adjusted current account deficit of $2.8 billion for the March 2017 quarter, $1.1 billion wider than in December 2016 and the largest quarterly deficit since the global financial crisis rocked the economy in 2008.

For the year ending March 2017, New Zealand’s annual current account deficit was $8.1 billion, or 3.1 per cent of GDP. As a percentage of GDP, this is the same as the annual deficit ending in March 2016, of $7.8 billion.

“New Zealanders spent more on imports of goods this quarter than we earned from our exports of goods,” said international statistics senior manager Daria Kwon. “The increased spending on goods, like cars and machinery, led to a record high value of imports this quarter.”

For the year ending March 2017, vehicles, parts and accessories topped the table, with imports up 11.3 per cent to 7.6 billion. In second was mechanical machinery and equipment, up 10.1 per cent to $6.8 billion, followed by business and personal travel, up 8.5 per cent to $5.7 billion.

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