August merchandise trade deficit fell by half over July figure

Merchandise trade provisional figures for August 2016 recorded a deficit balance of Vt2.892 billion, a slight deterioration of Vt751 million or (21%) compared to August 2015.

This trade deficit balance was due to the value of total imports (Vt3.464b) exceeded that of total exports at Vt572 million, according to the Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO).

This is compared to the merchandise trade provisional figures for July 2016 that recorded a deficit balance of Vt4.050 billion, a deterioration of Vt2.162 billion or (115%) compared to July 2015 as a result of the value of total imports (Vt4.470b) exceeding that of total exports at Vt421 million.

In August, domestic export earnings (excluding re-exports) for August 2016 stood at Vt572 million, a significant increase of 92% or Vt274 million compared to August 2015, according to the August Highlights of the Merchandise trade statistics of the VNSO.

For the main export commodities, Copra constituted the largest share in value at Vt194 million or 34%, followed by kava at 24%, cocoa at 14%, coconut oil at 7%, live fish at 1%, coffee, vanilla and alcoholic drinks recorded less than 1% each respectively, while other products at 15% over August 2015. Other products comprised mainly of sandal wood billets, sea cucumber, other plywood species (Pterocarpus indicus), citrus fruits, personal effects and survey equipment.

“In August 2016, coconut product exports in value recorded a significant increase for copra at 48% or Vt63 million. However, coconut oil decreased at 25% or Vt13 million, compared to the same period of last year,” the VNSO August Highlight states.

Kava exports in value stood at Vt140 million in August 2016, representing a significant increase of Vt129 million compared to Vt11 million in August 2015. Beef exports increased by 17% or Vt3 million from Vt20 million in August 2015 to Vt23 million in August 2016. Most of the beef was mainly exported to Japan, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and New Zealand.

“In terms of imports and the share of commodity groups to total imports receipts, Machines and transport equipment represented the largest value ( C.I.F) of Vt762 million or (22%) of the total imports for home consumption in August 2016, followed by food and live animals at Vt756 million or (22%), basic manufactured goods at (21%), mineral fuels and miscellaneous manufactured goods at (10%) each, chemical products at (7%), beverages and tobacco at (4%), crude materials at (2%), and the rest of the group recorded 1% each compared to August 2015.”

Compared to August 2015, the commodity groups which increased were: oils and fats at Vt14 million, followed by beverages and tobacco at Vt70 million or 98%, chemical products at Vt59 million or 32%, miscellaneous goods at 29%, mineral fuels at 14%, and food and live animals at 4% in August 2016. However, the rest of the commodity group that decreased were: Machines and transport at (43%), basic manufactured goods at (26%) and crude materials at (22%) respectively.

The August Highlight states that the distribution of imported goods by country grouping recorded increases in August 2016 for the following countries: France 108%, New Caledonia 82%, Japan 80%, Hong Kong 48%, Australia 17% and Singapore at 9%. However, the rest of country grouping where imports for home consumption decreased were: New Zealand at (18%), Fiji at (10%) and other countries at (42%) respectively compared to August 2015.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: Cell # 678 5460922

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