GLOBAL growth has been in a crisis with a seemingly increasing number of emerging-market currencies suffering setbacks over the past few years due to a conflux of forces and Namibia has not been spared sliding into a recession last year.
A slump in trade indexes has also been at the centre of the turmoil that Namibia has faced but the latest World Trade Outlook Indicator (WTOI) which suggests that global trade growth will continue to build moderately in the first quarter of 2017 after having strengthened in the final quarter of last year provide a glimmer of recovery hope.
Imperative to note is that Namibia’s economy is heavily dependent on the earnings generated from primary commodity exports in a few vital sectors, including minerals, especially diamonds, livestock, and fish. Furthermore, the Namibian economy remains integrated with the economy of South Africa, as the bulk of Namibia’s imports originate there.
Essentially, the trade-related indicators including air freight, automobile sales, export orders and container shipping have all registered solid gains in recent months, auguring for faster growth in merchandise trade volumes in the first few months of the year.
The WTOI is a leading indicator of world trade, designed to provide ‘real time’ information on the trajectory of merchandise trade three to four months ahead of trade volume statistics. It combines several trade-related indices into a single composite indicator to measure short-run performance against medium-run trends. A reading of 100 indicates trade growth in line with trend, while readings greater or less than 100 suggest above or below trend growth.
With a current reading of 102.0 for the month of November, the WTOI points to above-trend trade growth in February-March. The WTOI has risen further above trend since the last release three months ago, when the indicator stood at 100.9.
Four of the six component indices of the latest WTOI are more positive than the reading for August. Air freight, automobile sales, export orders and container shipping are all moving in a positive direction above trend and rising. Data on international freight tonne kilometres from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has risen sharply. Container port throughput of major ports has largely recovered from its recent slump while the automobile index has also rebounded after dipping in the middle of last year.
The WTO trade forecast issued on 27 September last year foresaw world merchandise trade growth of 1.7 percent in 2016 and growth between 1.8 percent and 3.1 percent in 2017. The WTOI currently suggests that trade volume may begin to recover in the fourth quarter once data become available. Any such rebound would have to be fairly strong for trade growth in 2017 to match the 1.7 percent increase forecast by the WTO last September.
Conclusively, positive trade will undoubtedly drive the recovery focus of Namibia forward.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015