The latest official data from the New Zealand government has shown a decline in the country's import and export performance during October 2015.
Total goods exports fell to $3.8 billion (£1.68 billion), down 4.5 per cent compared to October 2014, with milk powder, butter and cheese leading the decline. Meanwhile, goods imports dropped by 2.2 per cent, or $109 million, due to declining purchases of petrol, aviation fuel and capital goods.
Because exports fell more than imports, the country's trade deficit widened to $963 million during the month, compared with a deficit of $892 million for the same period last year.
Further analysis of the data indicated that goods exports to China rose by $57 million, or 9.2 per cent, making China the top export destination for New Zealand businesses this year, edging ahead of Australia.
The rise in exports to China this month was led by beef, milk powder and kiwifruit, while goods exports to Australia fell by $66 million, driven by crude oil.
China was previously the top export destination in November 2013, but fell below Australia from March to September 2015. The latest development means the Asian superpower is now both New Zealand's top export destination for goods and its top source of imports.
Goods made up 80 per cent of total goods and services exports to China and 95 per cent of total imports from China for the year ended June 2015.
Jason Attewell, international statistics senior manager at Statistics New Zealand, said: "Since annual exports to China fell from their peak in 2014, exports to China and Australia have been around $8.4 billion each. Annual exports to Australia peaked in January 2012 but have been generally falling since, due to lower crude oil exports."