The surplus increased to NZ$656 million ($437 million) from NZ$590 million in March, Statistics New Zealand said. In the year ended April, the nation posted a NZ$161 million trade surplus, the first since July 2002.
Exports, which make up 30 percent of gross domestic product, have been rising as prices of New Zealand’s commodity shipments jumped to an all-time high and demand from nations such as China has been surging.
The monthly figures aren’t seasonally adjusted and New Zealand’s exports typically increase between February and May as milk, wool and meat production peaks.
Exports fell 2.2 percent to NZ$3.97 billion in April from a record NZ$4.06 billion in March, today’s report showed.
Shipments of milk powder, butter and crude oil declined from March, the agency said. Meat and fruit exports rose.
Exports to China increased by 44 percent from a year earlier to NZ$460 million in April. China now buys 10 percent of total annual exports and is New Zealand’s second largest customer after Australia.
Imports declined 4.5 percent from March to NZ$3.31 billion, today’s report showed. The figures included a navy ship that boosted military goods imports by NZ$95 million.
Crude oil imports declined 7.5 percent as a fall in volumes offset rising prices.
From a year earlier, imports fell 0.2 percent while exports gained 9 percent. Stronger demand for New Zealand goods led to the NZ$161 million trade surplus in the 12 months ended April 30 from a NZ$172 million deficit in the year through March.