Significant drop in trade surplus
External economy
muh, External trade in goods, import, export, balance of trade (export minus import), mainland exports, imports excluding ships and oil platforms, trade ( between countries, continents and trade regions), international product groups (for example hs, sitc and bec), product groups (for example food, crude oil and metals)External trade , External economy

External trade in goodsMarch 2016, preliminary figures



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Significant drop in trade surplus

The trade surplus for March 2016 totalled nearly NOK 9.1 billion, which is the lowest since September 1999, apart from April 2015. Both imports and exports of goods were less than in March last year, but were almost unchanged from the previous month.

External trade in goods1
NOK MillionChange in per centNOK Million - so far this yearChange in per cent - so far this year
March 2016February 2016 - March 2016March 2015 - March 2016March 2016March 2015 - March 2016
1The figures are marked with the symbol *. This is Statistics Norways standard symbol for indicating preliminary figures.
2Due to the data collection method, the preliminary monthly figures published for ships and oil platforms are often incomplete. In retrospect, therefore, the trade in these goods could in some cases lead to major corrections in the figures. Please see tables 2-4 for the impact these figures have on the external trade.
Imports49 9330.9-11.5142 851-2.9
Ships and oil platforms21 115190.4-49.51 739-46.6
Exports59 001-0.4-27.0178 627-20.3
Crude oil11 920-3.8-35.435 679-28.0
Natural gas13 680-8.8-43.346 507-32.2
Natural gas condensates389383.6-39.61 030-22.3
Ships and oil platforms227-79.2-90.0266-83.9
Mainland exports32 9864.3-11.695 145-7.5
The trade balance9 068-6.9-62.835 777-53.5
The mainland trade balance-15 8329.46.2-45 967-12.3

Exports of goods amounted to NOK 59 billion, a drop of 27.0 per cent compared to March 2015. Lower oil and gas prices are the main reason for the decline. Imports in March amounted to NOK 49.9 billion – 11.5 per cent less than for the same month last year when the import value was particularly high.

The figures may be affected by Easter falling in April last year. Looking at seasonally-adjusted figures, the import value was almost the same as in March last year, while adjusted export figures only showed a slight change.

Weakened revenues from oil and gas

The export value of crude oil amounted to NOK 11.9 billion in March, a decrease of 35.4 per cent compared to the same month a year ago. The decline was mainly due to a significant decline in prices, averaging NOK 331 per barrel in March compared to NOK 454 the same month last year, but also due to a reduced export volume. Exports came to 36 million barrels of crude oil in March, compared to 39 million barrels in the same month a year ago. The export value of natural gas in a gaseous state dropped significantly and ended at NOK 13.7 billion, less than NOK 10.4 billion the year before. The export volume of natural gas in a gaseous state was somewhat higher than in March – 10.5 billion standard cubic metres compared to 10.2 billion last year.

Decline in mainland exports

Mainland exports totalled NOK 33 billion in March, which is down 11.6 per cent compared to the same month a year ago, however 4.3 per cent more than in February 2016.

Compared to March last year, exports declined for most of the main commodity groups. The most significant fall was for refined petroleum products in the main group mineral fuels, where export values almost halved – dropping from NOK 4.9 billion to NOK 2.6 billion in March 2016. The decline was due to both a price reduction and a smaller export volume. There was a major decline for manufactured goods, where the subgroup non-ferrous metals declined by NOK 623 million, ending at NOK 3.3 billion. Much of the decrease is due to lower prices for aluminium and nickel. Combined, these commodities amounted to about half a billion NOK of the decline. Exports of machinery and transport equipment came to NOK 6.1 billion in March, which is NOK 2.2 billion less than the year before. Exports declined for most subgroups, particularly for the industry machinery subgroups, which overall had a decrease of NOK 1.7 billion compared to March a year ago.

Increase in export values of fish

The value of fish exports increased by 18.2 per cent compared to March last year and totalled NOK 7.4 billion of which salmon alone accounted for 2/3 of the value. Salmon exports in March came to NOK 4.9 billion – NOK 720 million more than the year before. The exported volume was lower than last year and the increase is solely due to higher prices.

Less imports

Commodity imports decreased to NOK 49.9 billion in March, NOK 6.5 billion less than the same month a year ago when imports were particularly high.

Compared to March 2015 there was a decline in imports in most of the main commodity groups.

The largest decrease was for machinery and transport equipment, which fell by NOK 3.8 billion. All major machinery subgroups had a lower import value. As for the commodity group other transport equipment, within the same main commodity group, values fell to NOK 2.0 billion in March, down from NOK 3.8 billion the same month a year back. However, as this commodity group includes ships, aircraft and oil platforms values will vary widely from one month to another. Passenger car imports fell by NOK 234 million and ended at NOK 3.6 billion. A total of 17 200 cars were imported in March compared to 18 600 in March 2015, and the biggest decrease was for diesel-powered cars.

There was also a significant fall in imports of refined petroleum products, under the main commodity group mineral fuels, which came to NOK 668 million – a decrease in value of NOK 440 million compared to March last year.