Uganda goods trade deficit rises to highest in seven months

A decline in the value of Uganda’s goods exports even as the cost of imports rose was responsible for the trade deficit accelerating to its highest since September 2017 in April.

Bank of Uganda data shows that the monthly gap between exports and imports was $215.8m. Goods imports rose 4.9% from the previous month to $480.4m, while exports were down 11.5% to $264.6m, the lowest value in seven months.

Import growth was driven by government imports which increased 328% from March to $50.8m. Private sector imports, on the other hand, fell 3.7% to $429.6m due to a 5.9% decline in formal private sector imports.

Oil imports, categorised under formal private sector imports, increased by 7% to $87m. Non-oil imports however declined to $309m from $339.9m in March.

The value of non-coffee formal exports dropped by 16% compared to the previous month, and was responsible for the fall in receipts from exports. Coffee exports, which accounted for 12.4% of total exports in April, also fell 8.4% to $32.7m.

Compared to the same month last year, the merchandise trade deficit increased by 62% due to a 22.4% rise in imports. Exports also recorded a year on year growth of 2%.

Government imports increased by $12.6m compared to last April, while private sector imports increased by $75.3m with non-oil imports going up by $53.6m and oil imports rising 33% to $21.7m.

The annual growth in exports was driven by an increase in non-coffee formal exports and informal cross-border exports. Coffee receipts declined by 16.6%.