New Zealand has posted its biggest ever trade surplus for the month of February as Chinese demand for local primary products continued to soar.
The trade surplus was $NZ818 million ($A769.16 million) in February, from a revised $NZ286m surplus in January, and almost twice the $NZ432m surplus a year earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand.
The annual trade balance was a surplus of $NZ649m, or 1.3 per cent of exports.
Economists polled by Reuters were expecting a monthly surplus of $NZ600m and an annual surplus of $NZ490m.
Exports climbed 17 per cent to $4.56 billion, for an annual increase of 7.6 per cent to $NZ49.43b.
That was underpinned by China, with exports to the world’s second-biggest economy up 49 per cent to $NZ1.17b in February, for a 53 per cent annual gain to $NZ10.93b, or 22 per cent of all exports.
Imports from China rose 0.7 per cent to $NZ647m in February, and advanced an annual 6.3 per cent to $NZ8.3b.
Sales into China were led by whole milk powder, pine logs and sheep meat, with the world’s most populous nation buying about 44 per cent of the New Zealand’s milk powder, butter and cheese exports.
New Zealand’s milk powder, butter and cheese exports rose 38 per cent to $NZ1.57b in February for an annual increase of 26 per cent to $NZ14.45b.
Casein and caseinates edged up one per cent to $NZ100m in the month, and rose 5.8 per cent to $NZ975m in the year. Dairy products accounted for about 31 per cent of the nation’s annual exports.
Imports into New Zealand rose eight per cent to $NZ3.74b in February for an annual increase of 3.7 per cent to $NZ48.78b.