Merchandise trade provisional figures for December 2016 recorded a deficit balance of Vt3.342 billion, a deterioration of Vt608 million or (22%) compared to December 2015.

This trade deficit balance was due to the value of total imports Vt3.628 billion, which exceeded that of total exports at Vt286 million, according to the Vanuatu National Statistics Office’s Statistics Update of the Merchandize Trade Statistics.

Domestic export earnings (excluding re-exports) for December 2016 stood at Vt286 million, a significant fall of 51% or VT 304 million over December 2015, the report shows.

Exports

In December 2016, for the main export commodities; Kava constituted the largest share in value at VT84 million or 29% , followed by beef at 18%, copra at 14%, coconut oil at 12%, sawn timber at 6%, live fish and coconut meal at 2% each.

However, the rest of the commodities recorded less than 1% and other products at 18%. Other products comprised mainly of tamanu oil, fresh lemons, and survey equipment.

“According to coconut product exports in value, copra amounted to VT39 million in December 2016, meanwhile, coconut oil increased by 60% or VT12 million compared to December 2015.”

Compared to December 2015, kava exports in value stood at VT84 million, representing a significant increase of VT77 million in December 2016.

However, Beef exports increased by 17% or VT8 million respectively. Most of the beef was mainly exported to Japan, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Imports

“In terms of share of commodity groups to total imports receipts, Machines and transport equipment represented the largest value (C.I.F) of VT 965 million or 27% of the total imports for home consumption in December 2016, followed by food and live animals at VT 634 million or 17%, basic manufactured goods and mineral fuels at 16% each, miscellaneous goods at 10%, chemical products at 7%, beverages and tobacco at 3%, crude materials at 2%, goods not classified elsewhere at 1%, and the oils and fats registering below 1% over the same period of the previous year,” the Statistics Update for December 2016 says.

Compared to December 2015, the commodity groups which increased were: Mineral fuels at Vt562 million, followed by Goods not elsewhere classified at Vt32 million, crude materials at Vt25 million or 52%, chemical products at Vt14 million or 6%, basic manufactured goods at Vt10 million or 2%, oils and fats at Vt2 million or 14% in December 2016.

However, the rest of the commodity group that decreased were: miscellaneous goods at (24%), followed by food and live animals at (22%), beverages and tobacco at (8%) and machines and transport at (4%).

The distribution of imported goods by country grouping increased in December 2016 for Singapore at 689%, followed by Japan at 84%, and Other Countries at 14%. However, the rest of country

grouping where imports

for home consumption decreased were as follows: Hong Kong at (45%), France at (41%), Australia at (21%), Fiji and New Caledonia at (20%) each and New Zealand at (12%) respectively compared to the same corresponding period of the previous year.

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

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