Trade deficit grows in November as exports fall

Uganda’s merchandise exports fell in November on a year on year basis as imports increased, leading to the fastest rise in the trade deficit in three months.

The total value of goods exports was $295.8m, a decline of 2% from a year earlier. This was caused largely by a fall in exports of beans and coffee.

Merchandise imports rose 7.9% year on year, driving up the trade deficit by 25.7% to a three-month high of $212.3m.

The value of coffee exports declined for the 13th straight month, by 15% year on year to $41.9m. Exports of beans declined to $2.1m from $10.2m in November 2017. Informal cross border exports fell 20.7% to $40.4m.

Meanwhile, exports of gold increased from $13.4m a year earlier to $59.4m in November, contributing 17.9% to total export earnings.

Import growth was mainly due to a year on year increase in non-oil imports of 20.6% to $394m, mainly because of an increase in imports of mineral products (exclusive of petroleum products) from $12.4m a year earlier to $62.2m. Oil imports also increased by 9.8%. All in all, formal private sector imports rose 18.5% to $479.8m.

Government imports, on the other hand, declined by 50.9% to $24.3m.