Uganda posts first trade deficit drop in 13 months in September

Ugandan imports fell back in September with the country posting the first reduction in its goods trade deficit in 13 months.

Uganda’s merchandise imports fell 3.2% year on year in September, according to figures from Bank of Uganda, coming in at $462.4m, the first time since August 2017 their value is declining.

That fall in imports was responsible for the 27.9% year on year decline in the merchandise trade deficit to $162.3m. Like imports, the trade deficit had posted positive growth in the twelve months to September.

Goods exports increased 18.9% year on year in September, their fastest growth in eight months, to $300.1 million, the highest value in four months.

The decline in imports was largely due to a fall in government imports, from $77.3m last September to $7.8m in September 2018. Formal private sector imports however rose 19.4% to $450.2m, with oil imports increasing by 13.5% and non-oil imports increasing by 20.6%.

Export growth was driven by a surge in gold shipments, which rose 148.9% compared to the same month in 2017 to $56.2m. That increase was also responsible for the value of gold exports surpassing that of coffee shipments – which came in at $28.9m – for the second straight month. Coffee is traditionally Uganda’s most valuable export commodity.

Other than gold, the rise in exports was also due to tobacco shipments which increased by 125.6% year on year to $22.8m. Sugar exports also surged 92.7% to $12m.

Related: Gold exports exceed proceeds from coffee shipments for second straight month in May