Merchandise trade provisional figures for July 2016 recorded a deficit balance of Vt4.050 billion, a deterioration of Vt2.162 billion or (115%) compared to July 2015.

This trade deficit balance was due to the value of total imports (Vt4.470) exceeded that of total exports at Vt421 million.

Domestic export earnings (excluding re-exports) for July 2016 stood at Vt421 million, showing a decrease of 50% or Vt25 million compared to July 2015, according to the Merchandise Trade Statistics July Highlight of the Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO).

In July 2016, for the main export commodities, Copra constituted the largest share in value at Vt146 million or 35%, followed by kava at 24%, coconut oil at 13%, cocoa at 11%, beef at 4%, shell at 3%, sawn timber and coconut meal at 2%, each, while both coffee and live fish registered 1% each and other products at 6% over July 2015. Other products comprised mainly of other plywood species (Pterocarpus indicus), scrap metals, skin cream and personal effects.

In July 2016, coconut product exports in value recorded declines for coconut meal at 52%, copra at 37%, and coconut oil at 2% compared to the same period of last year.

Kava exports in value amounted to Vt100 million in July 2016, an increase of Vt82 million compared to Vt18 million in July 2015. However, beef exports slowed down by 8% or Vt1 million from Vt17 million in July 2015 to Vt16 million in July 2016. Most of the beef was mainly exported to Papua New Guinea, Japan and the Solomon Islands, the VNSO July highlight states.

In terms of share of commodity groups to total imports receipts, miscellaneous manufactured goods represented the largest value ( C.I.F) of Vt1.264 billion or (29%) of the total imports for home consumption in July 2016, followed by Machines and transport equipment at Vt1.009b or (23%), food and live animals at (15%), basic manufactured goods at (13%), mineral fuels at (7%), goods not classified elsewhere at (5%), chemical products at (4%), beverages and tobacco and crude materials at (2%) each, except oils and fats made up less than (1%) altogether.

Compared to July 2015, the commodity groups which increased: were miscellaneous goods showing an increase of Vt980 million from Vt284 million, followed by mineral fuels at 46%, machines and transport equipment at 29%, food and live animals and crude materials at 27% each, basic manufactured goods at 11% and beverages and tobacco at 7% in July 2016. However, the rest of the commodities that decreased were: oils and fats at (41%) and chemical products at (19%).

The distribution of imported goods by country grouping recorded increases in July 2016 for the following countries: Fiji 338%, Japan 239%, France 131% Singapore 64%. Other Countries 25%, New Zealand 18% and Australia at 14%, except New Caledonia and Hong Kong where imports for home consumption decreased by (49%) and (13%) respectively compared to July 2015, according to the VNSO Highlight.

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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