Declining imports show Namibian economy struggled in first quarter
The Southern African Customs Union is still the largest source of imports to Namibia but it is facing competition from the European Union, which has moved up two places in Namibia’s trade rankings, according to the Namibia Statistics Agency. However, across the board, transactions with trade partners have declined.
In its latest Quarterly Trade Statistics Bulletin for the first quarter of this year, the agency shows how the Southern African Customs Union emerged as Namibia’s largest source of imports despite the European Union even though the latter moved two places up.
The European Union moved two places up on the list of importing countries to Namibia in the face of the import bill from the customs union slowing. COMESA advanced one place to occupy the fourth position as a major source of imports despite the import bill from this market weakening to N$1,085 million in the first quarter of 2017 compared to N$1,201 million in the same period last year, indicating a 9.6% decline.
The statistics agency recorded an import bill decline of 5.8% for the first quarter of 2017 compared to the first quarter of 2016. However, the big shocker is that, quarter on quarter, imports declined by a whopping 12%. In nominal terms, these declines constitute amounts of N$13,998 million and N$14,969 million. Exports displayed a similar trend.
Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) ranked third as Namibia’s largest source of imports, though expenditure on imports from this market also declined, registering N$1,5 million in the first quarter of 2017, after recording N$1,934 million in the corresponding period a year ago, representing a 22.4% decline.
The import bill from the EU market stood at N$2,342 million in early 2017, representing an increase of 28.4 % when compared to the N$1,824 million recorded in first quarter of 2016.
“However, when compared to the previous quarter, the import bill from this market rose from N$1,357 million indicating a 10.5 % growth.” Statistician-General & CEO of the Namibia Statistics Agency, Alex Shimuafeni said.
“BRIC accounted for 7.7 % of the overall import expenditure absorbed by the domestic economy, down from 9.5 % witnessed in the corresponding quarter of 2016, but up from the 6 % recorded in the preceding quarter. The import bill from SACU of 67.8 % of the country’s total imports came down from 68.8 % recorded in the corresponding quarter a year earlier, but increased from the 66.3 % recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016.
The EU accounted for 12.1 % of Namibia’s overall import bill up from 9.5 % in the first quarter of 2016. Quarter on quarter trade also increased.
COMESA accounted for 5.6 % of the total import bill in the period under review, down from 5.9 % witnessed in the corresponding period a year earlier and up from 4.7 % recorded in the previous quarter.
Member states of the Southern African Development Community excluding South Africa and Botswana, contribute only a modest percentage of Namibia’s imports accounting for 5.4% of the total. This is down from 6.6% a year ago, but slightly up from the 4.5% in the final 2016 quarter.
The import bill from SADC-NON-SACU was estimated to be N$1,054 million in the first quarter of this year representing a 21.4 % decline after recording N$1,341 million in the same quarter a year ago, but advanced by 4.4 % when compared to N$1,009 million recorded in the previous quarter, the final quarter of 2016.