Petroleum oils dominate December import bill at N$3 billion

According to the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), petroleum oils contributed the most to the trade deficit observed in December 2023, with an import bill totalling N$3.0 billion.

This was followed by fertilizers, which accounted for a deficit of N$444 million, and motor vehicles for the transportation of goods, with a deficit of N$321 million, the Agency said.

The trade balance deficit for 2023 slightly expanded to N$31.9 billion from N$31.6 billion in 2022. Total exports increased to N$105.0 billion in 2023 from N$97.4 billion in 2022, and total imports also increased to N$136.8 billion in 2023 from N$128.9 billion in 2022.

In December 2023, Namibia’s trade deficit improved to N$299 million (marking the lowest figure for the year) down from N$4.0 billion in November 2023 and N$1.4 billion in December 2022. Export earnings slightly decreased to N$11.5 billion from N$11.8 billion in November 2023, while the import bill decreased to N$11.8 billion from N$15.8 billion in November 2023 but increased from N$10.8 billion in December 2022.

In December 2023, Namibia’s largest exported commodity was precious stones (diamonds), primarily destined for Botswana. Non-monetary gold followed, accounting for 11.2% of total exports, mainly headed to South Africa. Fish ranked third, with Spain, Zambia, and Mozambique as primary destinations. Fruits and nuts constituted the fourth-largest export, predominantly bound for the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Uranium rounded out the top five exports, primarily shipped to China. On the import side, the basket was primarily composed of petroleum oils (sourced mainly from India, Oman, and Bahrain), fertilizers (mainly from Saudi Arabia), motor vehicles for transportation of goods, civil engineering and contractors’ equipment, and specialized machinery and equipment for particular industries.

“The decline in exports of goods for December 2023 was primarily driven by decreases in uranium by N$2.1 billion, nickel ores and concentrates by N$248 million, non-monetary gold by N$163 million, other crude minerals by N$161 million, and rubber tyres by N$103 million. As for imports during the same period, the decrease was notably seen in petroleum oils by N$1.3 billion, inorganic chemical elements by N$300 million, sulphur and unroasted iron pyrites by N$159 million, civil engineering and contractors’ equipment by N$155 million, and wheat by N$149 million,” commented Simonis Storm.

During December 2023, Botswana remained Namibia’s primary export destination, while South Africa remained Namibia’s main import source. According to NSA’s commodity of the month report, Namibia exported beer worth N$98.1 million during December, with South Africa being the main destination, followed by Zimbabwe and Bahamas accounting for a smaller portion of the exports. This export trend aligns well with the festive season, explaining the prominence of beer as the commodity of the month in December.

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