The Uganda goods trade deficit with its international partners contracted for the third straight month in December on a decline in goods imports, according to figures from the Bank of Uganda.
The deficit was $222.9 million (Shs819bn), down 16.6% from a year ago. In November the goods trade deficit fell 20.8% while it was down 22.4% in October.
Goods exports rose 8.0% year on year in December to $326.8m, while merchandise imports fell 3.5% to $549.7m. The drop in goods imports was the third in as many months.
The growth in merchandise exports was driven by a 56.6% year on year rise in exports to the United Arab Emirates, most likely the result of the 61.5% increase in gold exports to $99m. Formal exports rose 12.8% to $283.7m, driven by gold shipments, although coffee exports fell 1.7% to $31.9m. Informal cross-border exports were down 15.7% to $43m, largely due to a decline in industrial products.
On the import side, formal private sector imports increased by 9.8% to $526.1m while government imports fell 77.7% to $19.1m, driven by a decline in project imports. Non-oil imports, part of formal private sector imports, were up 12.6%, largely due to a rise in mineral products (excluding petroleum products) and machinery equipments, vehicles, and accessories. Oil imports were down 2.3%.
The fall in merchandise imports followed a 49% decline in imports from Saudi Arabia to $28.9m. Imports from South Africa fell 33.5% to $22.2m, while inbound shipments from Tanzania were down 22.2% to $38.5m. On the flip side, imports from China rose by $17.3m to $109.8m. Imports from India were valued at $52.7m, rising 19.2% year on year.