RTTNews - New Zealand posted a trade deficit of NZ$163 million in July, Statistics New Zealand said on Thursday, marking the smallest deficit in six years. Analysts had been expecting a shortfall of NZ$150 million following the revised deficit of NZ$332 million in June.

Imports fell 20.9 percent on year to NZ$3.34 billion, marking the second largest monthly decline since February 1993. Analysts had expected imports to come in at NZ$330 billion following the revised NZ$3.57 billion total in the previous month.

Statistics NZ said the greatest decreases in imports came in the petroleum and products category, down NZ$294 million or 35.1 percent. Vehicles, parts and accessories also dropped, down NZ$220 million or 46.2 percent.

Exports declined an annual 7.3 percent to NZ$3.18 billion. Forecasts had called for a total of NZ$3.15 billion after the revised NZ$3.23 billion total a month earlier.

The data showed that the decrease in exports was led by crude oil, down NZ$119 million or 37.8 percent. Meat and edible exports were down NZ$50 million or 11.5 percent, due to lower quantities. The value of New Zealand's largest export category - milk powder, butter and cheese - was almost the same as a year earlier, despite quantities being more than 50 percent higher.

The trends for merchandise import and export values both peaked in the latter half of 2008 and have been declining since then, the data showed, with imports showing the largest decline. The trend for the value of merchandise imports has been declining since August 2008, and is down 22.5 percent since then. In comparison, the trend for the value of merchandise exports has been declining since October 2008, and is down 7.4 percent since then.

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