During the period January to August 2017 the trade deficit worsened to US$2,784.2 million, increasing by US$478.8 million or 20.8% relative to US$2,305.4 million for the corresponding period in 2016 based on data release d by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).
The total spend on imported goods amounted to US$3,668.1 million, an increase of 18.3% or US$566.8 million during the review period for 2017. This compares to US$3,101.3 million booked for the same period in 2016. The main groups commodity responsible for the increase in spending were “Mineral Fuels, etcetera”, “Machinery and Transport Equip.”, “Manufactured Goods”, “Chemicals” and “Misc. Manufactured Articles” were the main commodity groups responsible for this increase in spending. According to STATIN, “Mineral Fuels, etcetera were valued at US$909.5 million, an increase of 56.8 per cent or US$329.3 million when compared to the US$580.2 million recorded in the similar 2016 period. This increase was due primarily to higher prices and volumes of crude petroleum, bunker C grade fuel oil, motor spirit (gasoline), kerosene type jet fuel (excl. turbojet A1 fuel), propane and butane. Additionally, approximately US$61.2 million worth of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) was imported during the 2017 period.”
Imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equip’ totalled US$946.1 million, 16.5% more than the US$812.3 million recorded for the same period of 2016. The movement according to STATIN was traced to, “higher importation of „road vehicles‟, „general industrial machinery and equipment,‟ and „telecommunications and sound – recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment”. Expenditure on “Manufactured Goods” stood at US$435.5 million, 14.3% more than the US$380.9 million recorded in the similar 2016 period. STATIN indicated this was due primarily to, “higher imports of ‘manufactures of metals’, ‘non-metallic mineral manufactures’, ‘paper, paperboard and articles of paper pulp, etc.’ and ‘iron and steel’.”
Over the review period, January – August 2017, “Chemicals” imported rose by US$41.7 million to value US$400.2 million relative to US$358.5 million in January to August 2016. This uptick was due mainly to higher imports of medicaments and sodium hydroxide. According to STATIN, “Imports from the United States of America (Jamaica‟s main trading partner) for January to August 2017 increased by US$334.5 million or 27.4 per cent to value US$1,554.1 million, when compared to the US$1,219.6 million. Total exports to the United States of America (USA) were valued at US$356.3 million, 12.6 per cent or US$39.9 million above the US$316.4 million recorded in January to August 2016. The trade deficit with the United States of America for January to August 2017 was US$1,197.7 million, which was 32.6 per cent or US$294.5 million more than the US$903.2 million observed for the similar 2016 period.”
Traditional Domestic Exports
Traditional Domestic Exports for the review period were valued at US$460.9 million, approximately of 4.8% or US$21.0 million above last year’s US$439.9 million. The Groups responsible for the movement were “Mining and Quarrying” and “Manufacture”. Notably, Non-Traditional Domestic Exports over the eight month period earned US$364.1 million, 25.8% above last year’s corresponding period of US$289.4 million.
The deficit with CARICOM improved 22.1% according to STATIN to US$201 million versus US$258 million documented for the corresponding period in 2016. STATIN noted, “Imports from CARICOM were valued at US$256.7 million, a decline of 18.5 per cent when compared to the US$314.9 million in the January to August 2016 period. Major commodity groups that contributed to this decline were “Food” and “Mineral Fuels, etcetera”. Expenditure on “Food” were valued at US$86.1 million, a decline of US$6.2 million when compared to the US$92.3 million recorded in the similar 2016 period. “Mineral Fuels, etcetera” were valued at US$108.8 million, US$50.2 million below the US$159.0 million recorded in January to August 2016. “Beverages & Tobacco” however increased by US$3.0 million to value US$19.2 million, up from the US$16.3 million recorded in the similar 2016 period.” Total exports to CARICOM for the review period were valued at US$55.7 million, down 1.9% relative to US$56.8 million booked in 2016. This was attributed to a 42.2% fall in re-exports.
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