By Hilary Mare
ALTHOUGH the domestic economy continues to rely on South Africa as a major source of imports, during the second quarter of 2016, the import bill from that country fell by 26 percent to account for N$14.195 billion from N$19.252 billion recorded in the corresponding period a year ago, the Namibia Statistics Agency has confirmed.
This however is a 15 percent growth from N$12.3 billion recorded in the previous quarter.
During the period under review, Namibia’s expenditure on imports fell by 14 percent, registering N$23.834 billion compared to N$27.579 billion recorded in the same period last year.
“The decrease in imports was largely led by weakening domestic demand for fuels, iron, steel, plastic, copper ores, beverages and vehicles,” Alex Shimuafeni the Statistician General said.
The largest decline in imports was recorded with China trading down 68 percent, followed by India at 22 percent. The decline in imports from South Africa was reflected in the value of products of animal origin, cereals and maize seeds, while from China, the commodities responsible for this downturn were boilers, articles of iron and steel and iron or steel. Additionally, mineral fuels and oils and; articles of iron or steel were the major cause for the decline from India.
However, when compared to the previous quarter, the import bill rose by six percent, up from N$22.382 billion. South Africa, Botswana, Italy and Zambia were among the main sources of imports for Namibia during the period under review. These markets made up slightly more than 78 percent of Namibia’s total imports from the rest of the world, up from 69 percent in the previous quarter and from 74 percent recorded in the same quarter a year ago.
Overall expenditure on imports from the aforementioned markets grew by 21 percent to register N$18.539 billion from N$20.536 billion in the same period last year; conversely, when compared to the previous quarter, the cost of imported commodities from these markets fell by 10 percent from N$15.353 billion to N$18.539 billion.
“The overall decline recorded in the import bill from the corresponding period of last year can be ascribed to falling domes t i c demand f o r foreign commodities, in particular from South Africa, China and India,” reaffirmed Shimuafeni.
Expenditure on import from these markets together fell by 30 percent to register N$15.417 billion from N$22.040 billion registered in the corresponding quarter a year earlier; however, a 10 percent growth from N$14.037 billion worth of imports from the aforementioned markets was noted when compared to the previous quarter.
During the period under review, Namibia’s export revenue stood at N$16.498 billion while the import bill was valued at N$ N$23.858 billion, which resulted in a merchandise trade deficit valued at N$7.360 billion.
The trade deficit narrowed by 36.8 percent, when compared to a revised figure of the corresponding period last year, in which the deficit was estimated at N$11.082 billion. The narrowing deficit can be attributed to a decline in the import bill other than an increase in export revenue. When compared to the previous quarter, the deficit more than doubled from N$3.520 billion to N$7.360.
“The decline in the deficit was attributed more to the growth in exports revenue during the reported period,” remarked Shimuafeni.
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