Petroleum topped import bill in March

The highest import bill in March was petroleum (N$2.2 billion), followed by copper (N$1.5 billion) and vehicles for the transport of goods N$622 million, this is based on trade statistics released by the Namibia Statistics Agency.

According to the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), 145,345 tonnes of goods have exited the country by road in March 2023, compared to 138,875 in February 2023. Most of the road transport consisted of petroleum, fish, and live animals.

Commenting on the trade statistics, Simonis Storm Securities, said due to the loadshedding in South Africa, the harbors cannot run at full capacity allowing for more cargo to be delivered to Walvis Bay’s harbor for export. This created opportunities for transport companies to transport goods onshore.

“This has supported local commercial vehicle sales as noted in our monthly reports at the same time that global supply chain issues have eased and allowed for improved inflow of new vehicle stock.”

The trade statistics revealed that the largest exports were precious stones (N$ 3.3 billion), uranium (N$1.5 billion) and fish (N$1.3 billion).

The latest trade balance is reported at negative N$2.2 billion, which Simonis said can be attributed to the import value of N$12.4 billion (increasing by and an export value of N$10.2 billion in March 2023.

Simonis said the IMF revised their GDP growth forecast downwards for Namibia as well from 3.2% to 2.8% due to the uncertainty around demand for key commodity exports and volatility of petroleum prices.

Namibia has become more open to international trade since the early 2000s evidenced by total trade constituting a larger percentage of GDP.

“Barring years of low and declining commodity prices, exports usually account for about 47% of GDP, making this a critical driver of economic growth and tax generation for government. Hence, any factor decreasing global demand for Namibia’s main export products will weigh on a significant driver of GDP. Given that we expect the import bill to be inflated by a weak rand exchange rate, elevated US dollar prices of various import products and rising global oil prices throughout 2023, we expect persistent trade deficits in 2023 to weigh on the GDP calculation,” Simonis said.

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