New Zealand exports rose by 11 percent year on year in March, driven by a surge in exports to China, the government statistics agency said Friday.
Exports hit 4.6 billion NZ dollars (3.16 billion U.S. dollars) last month, said Statistics New Zealand.
Exports to China were valued at 1.1 billion NZ dollars (756.58 million U.S. dollars), up 43 percent, led by dairy and lamb products.
"China continues to be our top destination for goods exports, and accounts for a quarter of the total dairy exports value," international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said in a statement.
"This March, exports to China exceeded 1 billion NZ dollars (687.8 million U.S. dollars) for the first March month since 2014."
The value of total dairy exports rose by 250 million NZ dollars (171.95 million U.S. dollars), or 29 percent, while the quantity rose 6.4 percent.
Imported goods were valued at 4.3 billion NZ dollars (2.95 billion U.S. dollars), up 7.6 percent, giving New Zealand a trade surplus of 332 million NZ dollars (228.35 million U.S. dollars), or 7.1 percent of exports, in March.
This compared with an average surplus of 11 percent of exports for the previous five March months.
The annual trade deficit for the year ended March was 3.7 billion NZ dollars (2.54 billion U.S. dollars), compared with a shortfall of 3.8 billion NZ dollars (2.61 billion U.S. dollars) in the year ended February.
In the quarter ending March, the value of imported goods rose 4.4 percent from the previous quarter to 13.6 billion NZ dollars (9.35 billion U.S. dollars), while the value of exported goods was up 2.4 percent to 12.2 billion NZ dollars (8.39 billion U.S. dollars).
The trade deficit in the March quarter was 1.4 billion NZ dollars (962.92 million U.S. dollars), equivalent to 11 percent of exports.
It was the 12th consecutive quarterly trade deficit and the largest since the September 2008 quarter.