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.