Nam diamonds lead in imports and exports

Namibia’s top-five exports in September 2013 were precious stones (diamonds), ships, boats and floating structures, ores, fish and zinc, which accounted for 75% of total earnings during the reporting month, states the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA)’s monthly trade statistics.
With the previous month’s total earnings standing at 56.5%, September’s exports of precious stones, particularly diamonds, were destined for Botswana, the Export Processing Zone (EPZ), United Kingdom, Vietnam and the USA.
The latest Bank of Namibia (BoN) stability report also shows the export earnings rose in the first half of this year, compared to the last half of 2012, owing mainly to diamond mining and the depreciation of the local currency. Mineral exports, BoN says, remained the single highest contributor to the total export earnings.
As with the BoN March stability report, the share of mineral exports to total exports rose by 3.7% between the two periods under review, from 38.3% during the last half of 2012 to 42% in the first half of this year.
Ships, boats and floating structures, vehicles, boilers and machinery, precious stones (diamonds) and electrical machinery and equipment were the five products that were most imported in September. In August, the top-five imports’ earnings had stood at 35.7% while in September, they accounted for an increase of up to 60.1%, notes the NSA trade statistics.
Overall, the trade statistics shows Namibia’s total export amounted to N$5.5b while N$8b worth of goods were imported in September 2013, resulting into a trade deficit of N$2.5b.
Compared to the previous month when the deficit was N$2.6b, the trade deficit declined by 3.8%. However, when compared to the same month of the preceding year, imports increased by 27% from N$6.3b.
The statistician-general (SG), John Steytler, stresses although the trade balance has narrowed month-on-month, export still lags behind and more needs to be done. “The import balance is very high while the export is practically inexistent, which should be a matter of concern for policymakers,” Steytler says.
Export earnings registered a significant growth of 77.4% from N$3.1b a month earlier and 34.1% in the corresponding month of the preceding year.
The Ministry of Finance (MoF)’s October quarterly economic update, however, shows the trade deficit has adopted an upward trend since the last quarter of 2012.
“The first quarter of 2013 saw Namibia’s deficit trade widened by a massive N$6.1b from the final quarter of 2012, from N$197m to N$1.7b, as the merchandise trade balance and net investment income both deteriorated sharply. Exports rose by 4.1% quarter-on-quarter but were outpaced by imports, which grew by 8.1% quarter-on-quarter, resulting in an increase in the merchandise trade balance of N$575m,” MoF says.
On the capital and financial account side, direct investments in Namibia and other long-term investments both increased in the first quarter, compared to Q4 of 2012, by N$266m and N$194m, respectively. It is, however, noted these improvements were overshadowed by an enormous drop in other short-term investments, which went from a surplus of N$623m in Q4 of 2012 to a deficit of N$2.1b.
On the consumers’ side, the [new] NSA revised Consumer Price Index (CPI) indicates the typical household expenditure spent on the most, a decade ago, was food with 30% of total expenses, followed by housing, water and electricity, gas (20%) and transport (15%).
Today, almost 30% of the expenses go into housing, water and electricity. Steytler thus highlights more spending in this area might show more progress made in the housing area, however, he also stresses one has to take into account the increasing prices of housing, which influence its inflation.
Furthermore, 16% of expenses go into food items, followed by 14.5% for transport. Communication currently takes 3.8% from 0.9% a decade ago, which is attributable to the continual, innovative communication and technological gadgets and increased use of mobile telephones (smart phones, IPads, tablets, laptops, etc).
The current CPI [for October] shows that the monthly inflation rates for the major groups comprising the Namibia CPI were food and non-alcoholic beverages were up by one percent while housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels remained the same from last month’s figure, which was 103.1 index points. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco decreased by one percent.
The revised CPI has seen the introduction of new items statistics, such as men’s and women’s clothing and footwear, which have showed a slight increase month-on-month from 0.1% to 0.7% in October.