Annual imports drop sharply in wake of COVID-19

Imports fell heavily in 2020, down $7.4 billion compared with the year to December 2019, but exports held up in in the year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Stats NZ said today.

“Annual imports started to drop away in the early stages of 2020, as the pandemic spread, affecting cargo supply lines and factory production around the world,” international trade manager Alasdair Allen said.

“The December year fall in annual imports was the largest annual December fall since December 2009,” Mr. Allen said.

“New Zealand imported much less fuel as international travel dried up, and the lockdown meant less travel within the country too,” Mr. Allen said.

“Car imports also fell sharply after the lockdown when non-essential businesses closed, including car yards.”

ExportsImports
Dec-002907549441830511812404
Dec-013255335116531560715335
Dec-023103373636229167859027
Dec-032839723735631781696583
Dec-043071190650834915468032
Dec-053081730419137278769506
Dec-063463355270140715696590
Dec-073655672212541868503650
Dec-084290022251448514055912
Dec-093967619667440220790546
Dec-104353538651842360270162
Dec-114769567623846884448695
Dec-124605849780147213580932
Dec-134804313421548359791162
Dec-145007464125051258060490
Dec-154897355077652510101792
Dec-164848701265551621051161
Dec-175360335695956474179880
Dec-185725110426563411686834
Dec-195989923628164365870256
Dec-205992291641756985550301

Key imports drop down a gear

Imports of petroleum and products fell $2.4 billion in 2020, following COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Imports of vehicle, parts, and accessories also fell, by $2.1 billion.

With little international travel, demand for turbojets and turbo-propellers fell, with imports of mechanical machinery and equipment down $1.1 billion.

These falls were partly offset by rises in other imports, led by ships, boats, and floating structures, up $224 million. This was buoyed by the arrival of the Navy ship Aotearoa in June . Imports of food residues and waste were up $202 million in the year to December, led by palm kernel oil cakes, used for animal feed.

Breathing equipment inflates exports

In contrast to the sharp drop in imports, annual exports were relatively unchanged in 2020, up $24 million to $60 billion in the year to December 2020.

  • Breathing equipment (respiratory equipment) was up $526 million, due to high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Fruit exports rose $525 million, driven by higher volumes and prices for kiwifruit.
  • Aircraft and parts rose $435 million, as planes were sent to the United States for storage, during the slump in international travel.
  • Preparations of cereals, flour, and starch, were up $204 million, driven by infant formula.

Trade surplus near record levels

November and December saw record numbers with large falls in imports, and exports holding their own. This resulted in an annual trade surplus of $2.9 billion in December 2020.

MonthsTrade balance
Jan-00-2968577997
Feb-00-2968303067
Mar-00-3037939355
Apr-00-3113606911
May-00-3034202680
Jun-00-2867017476
Jul-00-2868273118
Aug-00-2827265157
Sep-00-2931453259
Oct-00-2737734371
Nov-00-2414457291
Dec-00-1436317986
Jan-01-1326101129
Feb-01-984336511
Mar-01-893224616
Apr-01-520467439
May-01-46115725
Jun-0197412603
Jul-01186784034
Aug-01444740356
Sep-01983331111
Oct-01908554164
Nov-01930125261
Dec-01992635830
Jan-02613629415
Feb-02505015200
Mar-02871056353
Apr-02523070378
May-02356124489
Jun-02528198079
Jul-02274050320
Aug-02-182701445
Sep-02-481340073
Oct-022270473581
Nov-022146829546
Dec-021865877335
Jan-031775072073
Feb-031484858392
Mar-031272689665
Apr-031247182757
May-03852712591
Jun-03300015687
Jul-0392382692
Aug-03350326518
Sep-03-43968851
Oct-03-3234311230
Nov-03-3139197464
Dec-03-3384459227
Jan-04-3611364906
Feb-04-3514935682
Mar-04-3755373535
Apr-04-3927224032
May-04-3354228794
Jun-04-3513674020
Jul-04-3414368612
Aug-04-3823511839
Sep-04-4079656625
Oct-04-3894727676
Nov-04-4190362854
Dec-04-4203561524
Jan-05-3926377115
Feb-05-4119791938
Mar-05-4358068341
Apr-05-4303341559
May-05-5054890303
Jun-05-5174796041
Jul-05-5414823166
Aug-05-5807456136
Sep-05-5769002304
Oct-05-6128496838
Nov-05-6676518002
Dec-05-6461465315
Jan-06-7053223536
Feb-06-7321015672
Mar-06-7062367987
Apr-06-6889031871
May-06-6930052720
Jun-06-6609047677
Jul-06-6678367911
Aug-06-6528883215
Sep-06-6183268170
Oct-06-6460920070
Nov-06-6047494686
Dec-06-6082143889
Jan-07-6013270944
Feb-07-5766904772
Mar-07-5778717513
Apr-07-6028255665
May-07-5904768987
Jun-07-6230890416
Jul-07-6344957946
Aug-07-6340730949
Sep-07-6287313083
Oct-07-5888177906
Nov-07-5696105103
Dec-07-5311781525
Jan-08-4797539710
Feb-08-4427405997
Mar-08-4527853317
Apr-08-4604235402
May-08-4781684692
Jun-08-4478370820
Jul-08-4467955370
Aug-08-4368585068
Sep-08-5048446600
Oct-08-5268601611
Nov-08-5234319721
Dec-08-5613833398
Jan-09-5405094007
Feb-09-5165259379
Mar-09-4684388514
Apr-09-4069245068
May-09-2993195428
Jun-09-3108651044
Jul-09-2488659703
Aug-09-2357508636
Sep-09-1666548845
Oct-09-1173381124
Nov-09-859711723
Dec-09-544593872
Jan-10-174176202
Feb-10-328404281
Mar-10-158029268
Apr-10180219119
May-1043604027
Jun-10595558212
Jul-10587406786
Aug-10874399725
Sep-10981550579
Oct-101262991743
Nov-101366611703
Dec-101175116356
Jan-11914963722
Feb-11770961995
Mar-11749212976
Apr-111247846886
May-111028436720
Jun-111008956913
Jul-111297758678
Aug-111034858426
Sep-11700194500
Oct-11691000885.1
Nov-11292127486.1
Dec-11811227543.4
Jan-12642237597.4
Feb-12668802592.4
Mar-12267339878.4
Apr-12-556492607.6
May-12-852507733.6
Jun-12-765403085.6
Jul-12-771317896.6
Aug-12-889866048.4
Sep-12-891617763.4
Oct-12-1376066937
Nov-12-1387709099
Dec-12-1155083131
Jan-13-1288134857
Feb-13-1066600658
Mar-13-519517982.8
Apr-13-684486387.9
May-13-899278529.9
Jun-13-817513408.9
Jul-13-1703226555
Aug-13-2127760499
Sep-13-1558475607
Oct-13-1013893955
Nov-13-273945617.1
Dec-13-316656946.6
Jan-14261856780.7
Feb-14626544180.7
Mar-14798239427.7
Apr-141094978046
May-141319581553
Jun-141188788452
Jul-141034361247
Aug-141805429958
Sep-14667403260.8
Oct-14-55529708.2
Nov-14-491585024.2
Dec-14-1183419240
Jan-15-1416085181
Feb-15-2129195222
Mar-15-2372062053
Apr-15-2655363178
May-15-2552535649
Jun-15-2974524022
Jul-15-2762434271
Aug-15-3388067735
Sep-15-3169118919
Oct-15-3182397640
Nov-15-3694845499
Dec-15-3536551016
Jan-16-3576387438
Feb-16-3293433769
Mar-16-3765385279
Apr-16-3599927079
May-16-3624018758
Jun-16-3335288185
Jul-16-2956210757
Aug-16-3105932568
Sep-16-3353905739
Oct-16-3246734304
Nov-16-3174509188
Dec-16-3134038506
Jan-17-3372901784
Feb-17-3782103564
Mar-17-3709364276
Apr-17-3512014427
May-17-3793073108
Jun-17-3656746009
Jul-17-3213352131
Aug-17-3147802862
Sep-17-2925025327
Oct-17-2987352462
Nov-17-3486568651
Dec-17-2870822921
Jan-18-3306701368
Feb-18-3076168353
Mar-18-3488366897
Apr-18-3835501608
May-18-3698233766
Jun-18-4226611332
Jul-18-4521749014
Aug-18-4914164428
Sep-18-5328876286
Oct-18-5774003134
Nov-18-5555558893
Dec-18-6160582569
Jan-19-6433087606
Feb-19-6714928289
Mar-19-5739137569
Apr-19-5577919778
May-19-5602280084
Jun-19-4987207258
Jul-19-5516432322
Aug-19-5591308423
Sep-19-5321323859
Oct-19-5054599319
Nov-19-4837119347
Dec-19-4466633975
Jan-20-3927342455
Feb-20-3283119011
Mar-20-3382098833
Apr-20-2392724919
May-20-1273707991
Jun-20-1130951735
Jul-2026054535
Aug-201368692528
Sep-201655311385
Oct-202222752997
Nov-203299713546
Dec-202937366116

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