Uganda trade deficit falls as imports slide to 5-month low

Uganda’s merchandise exports posted their fastest growth in three months in July as imports eased, leading to a slowdown in the merchandise trade deficit.

Goods exports rose 11.9% year on year to $318.4m, largely because of an increase in gold exports, figures from the Bank of Uganda show.

Gold exports, which made up 30.6% of Uganda’s merchandise exports in July, increased by 226.3% compared to the same month last year to $97.3m. Other notable contributors to export growth were coffee, which rose 11.3% to $45.3m, and cotton shipments, valued at $4.5m versus $0.6m in July 2018.

Related: UN report links Uganda to smuggled DRC gold, says exports are underdeclared

Formal exports increased by $33.9m from last July to $275.5m. Informal crossborder exports, however, declined 0.5% year on year to $42.9m due to a fall inĀ  shipments of industrial products.

Merchandise imports grew by 21.9% year on year to $549.9m, their lowest level in five months. Mineral products rose to $96.1m from $40.5m a year ago, and were the biggest contributors to the increase in goods imports. Machinery equipments, vehicles and accessories, the largest category of private sector imports with a share of 21.1%, increased by 14.1% year on year.

Private sector imports rose to $524.9m, a year on year increase of 21.5%, while government imports came in at $24.8m compared to $19m in July 2018.

The goods trade deficit was $231.4m in July, an increase of $64.9m from $166.6m a year ago but 17% lower than in June.