New Zealand exports to China see surprising change in dollar value for January

New Zealand exports to China see surprising change in dollar value for January
Photo credit: File

New Zealand exports to China "strongly" increased in dollar value in January this year.

Exports rose $302 million (31 percent) to $1.3 billion in January 2020 compared with January 2019.

The rise was led by an increase in dairy, meat and logging, Statistics New Zealand says.

The trade data for January 2020 covers the period before travel restrictions to China were imposed after the coronavirus outbreak.

"China is an especially important market for our top three exports, accounting for more than a quarter of dairy, about half of all meat, and almost two-thirds of wood exports in January," international statistics manager Darren Allan says.

The initial economic impact of coronavirus will be seen in February's export figures.

"This may reflect a change in demand because of the extended Chinese New Year holiday and quarantine imposed in some areas in China," he says.

New Zealand exports to China see surprising change in dollar value for January
Photo credit: Statistics New Zealand

The Forest Owners Association said earlier in February that a lack of space in Chinese ports was bringing a "virtual halt" to New Zealand log exports. There were no offtakes of logs 

Association president Peter Weir said he hoped business would return to normal after the extended Lunar New Year holiday, but that "hasn't happened".

"Many Chinese sawmills are yet to get back to work. New Zealand exporters have nowhere else to send the industrial-grade logs they harvest."

New Zealand sent 27 percent ($1.3 billion) of its total exports to China in January alone. Annually, 28 percent of New Zealand's exports were to China.

Total imports from China in January were worth $1.1 billion, which is 22 percent of New Zealand's total monthly imports.