China becomes New Zealand's top export market

WELLNGTON, New Zealand (AP) — China's thirst for quality milk has seen it become New Zealand's top export market for the first time.

Neighboring Australia had long been New Zealand's biggest market.

But figures released Friday by Statistics New Zealand show that in the first quarter of 2013, exports to China were up 32 percent from the same period last year to 2.3 billion New Zealand dollars ($2 billion). Meanwhile, exports to Australia were down 7 percent to NZ$2.2 billion.

The U.S. remained New Zealand's third-largest market. In the quarter, sales to the U.S. increased by 10 percent to NZ$1.2 billion.

Some 40 percent of China's spending on New Zealand exports was for milk power and other dairy products. It spent 17 percent on wood and 12 percent on meat.

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