Merchandise trade provisional figures for March 2017 recorded a deficit balance of Vt2.747 billion, a deterioration of Vt649 million or (19%) compared to March 2016.

This trade deficit balance was due to the value of total imports Vt3.066 million, exceeded that of total exports at Vt319 million, according to the March Highlights of the Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO).

Domestic export earnings (excluding re-exports) for March 2017 stood at Vt319 million, a fall of 27% or Vt119 million over March 2016.

Exports

In March 2017, for the main export commodities; kava constituted the largest share in value at Vt152 million or 48%, followed by sawn timber at 16%, beef at 13%, coconut oil at 8%, live fish at 3%, cocoa at 2%, while, the rest of the commodities recorded less than 1% and other products at 10%. Other products comprised mainly of base metals and articles, animal products and wood, cork and articles thereof, the report states.

“According to coconut product exports in value, it recorded decreases for coconut oil at Vt25 million or 49%, followed by coconut meal at Vt7 million or 85% compared to March 2016.”

No copra was exported in March compared to January, 2017 when Copra constituted the largest share in value at Vt368 million or 62% of total exports.

Compared to March 2016, kava exports in value increased by 13% or Vt17 million from Vt134 million to Vt152 million in March 2017. Meanwhile, beef exports increased by Vt33 million in March 2017. 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 Vt877 million or 29% of the total imports for home consumption in March 2017, followed by basic manufactured goods and food & live animals at 20% each, chemical products and miscellaneous goods at 9% each, beverages and tobacco at 7%, mineral fuels, goods not classified elsewhere and crude materials at 2% each, and the oils, fats and waxes less than 1% over the same period of the previous year,” the March Merchandise Trade Highlight continues.

Compared to March 2016, the commodity groups which increased were: Beverages and tobacco at 215% or Vt145 million, followed by chemical products at 68% or Vt115 million, crude materials at 59%, mineral fuels at 44%, basic manufactured goods at 25% or Vt118 million, and goods not classified elsewhere at Vt52 million in March 2017. However, the rest of the commodity group that decreased were: oils, fats and waxes (59%), followed by food and live animals at (58%), machines and transport equipment at (24%) and miscellaneous goods at (8%) altogether in March 2017.

The distribution of imported goods by country grouping increased in March 2017 for Fiji at 150%, New Zealand at 108%, Japan and Singapore at 11% each, besides Hong Kong at 4%. However, the rest of country grouping where imports for home consumption decreased were: France at (91%), New Caledonia at (5%), Australia at (3%), and Other Countries at (25%) altogether, 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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