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Smaller trade deficit in 2016 than in 2015

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) released the Annual Trade Flow for the year 2016 as well as the quarterly trade statistics report for the fourth quarter of 2016 this week showing that on an annual basis the country registered a trade deficit of N$29.8 billion, a decline of 24.7% compared to 2015.

According to the NSA, the recent decline in the deficit is due to stronger growth in export revenue than the growth in import expenditure.

The agency said during 2016, merchandise exports increased to N$70.6 billion compared to N$58.6 billion in 2015. The exports increase is 20.9%.

“The increase was mainly due to high export value of diamonds, copper ores, vessels, fish, and copper cathodes. The expenditure on imports rose to N$100.8 billion in 2016, from N$98.2 billion recorded in 2015 representing a 2.5% growth,” the NSA said adding that the N$2.5 billion growth in imports is attributed to high domestic demand for mineral fuels and oils, vehicles, boilers, diamonds and vessel.

According to the NSA, Namibia’s major export markets in 2016 were Switzerland (N$13.3 billion), South Africa (N$11.4 billion), Botswana (N$10 billion),  Zambia (N$4.4 billion) and the Exporting Processing Zone (N$4.4 billion).

“These markets combined absorbed 61.3% of Namibia’s total exports during the period under review,” the NSA noted.

On the other hand, Namibia’s major source of imports were South Africa (N$59.1 billion), Botswana (N$6.7 billion), Zambia (N$4.0 billion), China (N$2.8 billion) and Norway (N$2.5 billion). These countries accounted for over 74% of Namibia’s total imports from the rest of the world in 2016, NSA said.

Despite decline in the annual trade deficit, NSA said the fourth quarter of 2016 recorded a trade deficit amounting to N$14.2 billion as compared to N$11 billion witnessed during the same period of last year indicating a growth of 29%.

“The growth in the trade deficit resulted to a stronger growth experienced in import expenditure compared to a minimum growth observed in export revenue,” the NSA said.

The agency said that the import bill grew to N$29.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to N$25.8 billion recorded in the
same quarter of 2015 translating into a 13.6% increase. Likewise, exports increased to N$15.1 billion compared to N$14.8 billion recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2015, resulting in a 2% increase.

“Vessels, mineral fuel and oils; boilers and vehicles emerged as the most imported commodities which contributed largely to the import bill for q4-2016,” the agency highlighted.

Meanwhile,  the NSA said in terms of economic regions, over 39% of Namibia total value of goods exported were destined for SACU, making SACU Namibia’s largest export destination in q4-2016. The European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Area (EFTA) occupied the second and third positions registering 25 and 15.2% respectively. Similarly, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) remained the largest source of domestic imports accounting for over 70% of total imports. The EFTA ranked second with 11.7% and third was the group ‘Brazil, Russia, India and
China’ (BRIC) with a 5.2% share of the total import bill.

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