Export growth robust in March as trade deficit narrows

Uganda’s exports grew by 20.7% year on year in dollar terms in March while the cost of imports increased by 6.2%, according to statistics from Bank of Uganda.

Exports increased to $288.19 million, on the back of higher earnings from coffee – which rose 118.2% year on year – and informal cross-border trade export earnings, which increased by 43.3% to $47m.

Coffee was the most valuable export, bringing in $50.44m, which was 17.5% of the total. Industrial products – a category of informal cross-border trade exports – were valued at $29.28m, contributing 10.2% to total exports. Gold was the third most valuable commodity, earning $24.36m or 8.5%.

March’s export growth is higher than February’s year on year growth of 14%. Uganda earned $256.18m (revised) from exports in February, which indicates a 12.5% month on month increase.

Imports grew 6.2% year on year to $373.27m, driven by a 69.9% growth in oil imports which pushed up private sector imports by 10.2% to $369.4m. Government imports, on the other hand, fell 76.2% to $3.8m due to a 74.9% decline in project imports.

The trade flows mean Uganda’s trade deficit in March was $85.1m, a year on year decline of 24.6%. In February the trade deficit was $96.1m.

In the first three months of 2017, also the third quarter of the 2016/17 financial year, the value of exports was $809.72m, a 15.8% growth compared to the same period in the previous financial year.

This was due to an 84% growth in the value of coffee exports to $147.93m and a 37.8% increase in the value of informal cross-border trade exports to $142.61m. Non-coffee formal exports – whose share of total exports in the quarter was 64.1% – increased by 0.7% compared to the same period in 2015/16.

Imports rose 6.4% to $1,092.2m in the third quarter of 2016/17 (January-March) compared to Q3 2015/16, with private sector imports growing 12.6% to $1,076.7m and government imports falling 77.9% to $15.5m.

The trade deficit in the quarter was $282.4m compared to $326.6m in Q3 2015/16, a decline of 13.5%.