New Zealand milk powder exports to China hit a record level last year, driving up New Zealand exports overall, the government statistics agency announced Friday.
However, the country still ended the year with a small export deficit of around 200 million NZ dollars (163.22 million U.S. dollars), according to Statistics New Zealand.
"For 2013, the value of goods we exported rose by 2 billion NZ dollars (1.63 billion U.S. dollars) to reach 48.1 billion NZ dollars (39.24 billion U.S. dollars), and most of this increase was from milk powder," industry and labor statistics manager Louise Holmes-Oliver said in a statement.
"Almost half of our milk powder exports went to China."
Goods exported to China in last year were valued at 10 billion NZ dollars (8.16 billion U.S. dollars), of which 4 billion NZ dollars (3.26 billion U.S. dollars) was milk powder, the highest- ever value of milk powder exported to China for any year.
"China became our top annual export destination in 2013, a spot Australia had held since the year ended September 1989," Holmes- Oliver said.
"For imports, China's been our main partner since December 2011. "
Imports for the December 2013 year were up 1.1 billion NZ dollars (897.74 million U.S. dollars), to 48.3 billion NZ dollars (39.42 billion U.S. dollars).
In the December 2013 quarter, exports rose 10 percent to 13.4 billion NZ dollars (10.93 billion U.S. dollars), and imports fell 2.8 percent to 12.3 billion (10.04 billion U.S. dollars) from the September 2013 quarter.