China edged closer to overtaking Australia as New Zealand's biggest trade partner by buoying up New Zealand exports amid falls in other major markets in the quarter ending September.
New Zealand exports were up 9.4 percent in the September quarter, while imports rose by 8.4 percent, Statistics New Zealand announced Thursday.
Export values hit 12.1 billion NZ dollars (10.18 billion U.S. dollars) led by the largest export group of milk powder, butter, and cheese, which saw values rise by 20 percent, or 551 million NZ dollars, while import values rose to a record 12.7 billion NZ dollars, said a statement from the government agency.
Of the top three export markets, only exports to China were up, rising by 554 million NZ dollars year on year to 2 billion NZ dollars, while exports to Australia fell by 230 million NZ dollars to 2.3 billion NZ dollars, and exports to the United States were also down at 856 million NZ dollars.
China was the top ranked country for imports, with New Zealand taking 2.6 billion NZ dollars in Chinese goods in the September quarter, up by 496 million year on year, while imports from Australia, at 1.7 billion NZ dollars, and the United States, at 1. 3 billion NZ dollars, were both down.
New Zealand had a trade deficit of 637 million NZ dollars, equivalent to 5.3 percent of exports, in the quarter following a deficit of 689 million NZ dollars in the June quarter.