Uganda posts largest trade deficit on record

Exports to Rwanda in steep drop for the second straight month

Uganda posted a record merchandise trade deficit in April as imports strongly outpaced exports, Bank of Uganda figures show.

The figures released on Friday show a deficit of US$333.1 million, the highest ever, as it rose 29.7% compared to the same month last year.

Goods imports increased by 24.1% year on year to $640.7m, their second highest level ever after the previous month’s all-time high of $714.4m. Merchandise exports rose 18.5% to $307.6m.

Private sector imports came in at $503.7m compared to $429.8m a year earlier, driven by an increase in non-oil imports. Government imports rose 58.2% to $137m due to a jump in non-project imports.

Shipments from Kenya drove the rise in total imports, increasing by 85.9% year on year to $80.1m. Another significant contributor to the increase was Indian imports which rose 39.7% to $90.1m.

Asia was the biggest source of goods imports to Uganda in April accounting for 40.9%, followed by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa trading bloc with 15.9%, the Middle East with 15.6%. The rest of Africa had a share of 15%.

The single largest source was India with a share of 14.1% followed by Kenya with 12.5% and China with 12.1%.

Another steep drop in exports to Rwanda

Gold was the most valuable export commodity and comprised 28.8% of total receipts followed by coffee at 9.8%. Coffee exports fell 8% year on year to $30.1m.

Turning to the destination of goods exports, exports to the United Arab Emirates contributed the most to annual growth merchandise exports. Shipments to the Middle Eastern country were up by 139.7% and were valued at $92.6m. The UAE is the biggest buyer of gold from Uganda, most of which is smuggled from neighbouring DR Congo.

Exports to neighbouring Rwanda, which imposed a blockade on goods from Uganda in late February, fell by 92.3% to $1.2m, a figure that’s even lower than March’s $2.6m.

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