Merchandise trade provisional figures for January 2016 recorded a deficit balance of Vt2.94 billion over January 2015, indicating a deterioration of 34% or Vt741 million. This trade deficit balance was due to the value of total imports (Vt3.35 billion) exceeded that of total exports by (Vt413 million), according to the latest merchandise trade statistics issued by the Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO).

Domestic export earnings (excluding re-exports) for January 2016 stood at Vt413 million, indicating an increase of 26% or Vt85 million over January 2015, the report says. There was a huge shipment of copra exports in the month of January 2016 that contributed to this increase.

In January 2016, for the main export commodities, Copra constituted the largest share in value at Vt236 million or 57%, followed by coconut oil at 13%, cocoa at 9%, beef at 5%, shell and sawn timber at 2% each, cowhides, coconut meal and live fish at 1% each and coffee registering less than 1% over January 2015 respectively. Other products comprised mainly of citrus fruits and medicaments.

“Coconut products exports in January 2016 recorded a huge shipment of copra, valued at Vt236 million, while coconut oil and coconut meal decreased by 51% and 45% compared to the same period of last year,” the VNSO report shows.

In January 2016, beef exports recorded a slight decrease by 18% or Vt5 million from Vt27 million in January 2015 to Vt22 million in January 2016.

However, there was no shipment on kava exports in January 2016.

Most of the beef was mainly exported to the Solomon Islands, Japan, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

“In terms of share of commodity groups to total imports receipts, machines and transport represented the largest value (C.I.F) of Vt1.299 billion or 40% of the total imports for home consumption in January 2016 followed by food and live animals at 19%, mineral fuels at 14%, basic manufactured products at 12%, chemical products and miscellaneous goods at 5% each, beverages and tobacco at 3%, crude materials at 1% and oils and fats and goods not classified elsewhere made up less than 1% altogether.”

The commodity groups which increased the most in January 2016 were machines and transport by 145% or Vt769 million from Vt530 million in January 2015 followed by food and live animals at 55%, chemical products at 29%, crude materials at 24%, beverages and tobacco at 22% and basic manufactured products at 1%. In contrast the rest of the imported items decreased such as goods not elsewhere classified at (100%), mineral fuels at (37%), oils and fats at (26%), and miscellaneous goods at (3%) over the same period of last year, the VNSO report says.

The distribution of imported goods by country grouping remains stable over January 2015 for Australia, Fiji and New Zealand. However Singapore and Japan were replaced by China and Hong Kong in January 2016.

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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