WELLINGTON, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Exports of dairy commodities to China led the increase in export values, as higher world prices for milk powder helped boost export values in recent months, New Zealand's statistics department Stats NZ said on Tuesday.
Total export values were 5 billion NZ dollars (3.65 billion U.S. dollars) in May 2017, up 8.7 percent from May 2016, according to Stats NZ.
The largest rise in export values was in the dairy commodity group, up 42 percent. Milk powder, butter, and cheese all rose at least 40 percent on a year earlier, said a release, adding that there were also smaller increases across other large export commodities, including beef and lamb, forestry, fruit, and wine.
Imports of petroleum products and motor vehicles pushed total imports to 4.8 billion NZ dollars (3.5 billion U.S. dollars) in May, or 15 percent higher year on year, it said.
The leading contributor to the increase was petroleum products, up 269 million NZ dollars (196 million U.S. dollars), or 71 percent, led by crude oil, up 127 million NZ dollars (92.7 million U.S. dollars), or 65 percent on a year earlier, the release said.
"Crude oil and other petroleum products are imported in large, irregular shipments, which can cause large percentage fluctuations in values," international statistics senior manager Daria Kwon said, adding that this month's increase in value is much higher than in recent times.
Imports of motor vehicles and parts were up 22 percent from May 2016 to reach 739 million NZ dollars (539 million U.S. dollars) in May 2017. The increase was led by passenger motor cars, up 23 percent to 468 million NZ dollars (341.6 million U.S. dollars), said a release.
The annual trade deficit for the year ended May 2017 widened to 3.8 billion NZ dollars (2.77 billion U.S. dollars), from 3.6 billion NZ dollars (2.628 billion U.S. dollars) in April 2017.
The trade surplus in May 2017, which was 103 million NZ dollars (75.2 million U.S. dollars) or 2.1 percent of exports, was lower than the average surplus, which was 5.7 percent of exports in recent May months.