During the period January to July 2017 the trade deficit worsened to US$2,376.7 million, increasing by US$383.2 million or 19.2% relative to US$1,993.5 million for the corresponding period in 2016 based on data released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).
The total spend on imported goods amounted to US$3,156.0 million, an increase of 17.2% or US$462.0 million during the review period for 2017. This compares to US$2,693.9 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”. According to STATIN ‘Mineral Fuels, etcetera’ were valued at US$754.4 million, 54% above the US$488.0 million recorded for the similar period in 2016. The growth year over year was attributed to higher prices and volumes of crude petroleum, bunker C grade fuel oil, automotive diesel oil (ADO), motor spirit (gasoline), kerosene type jet fuel (excl. turbojet A1 fuel), propane and butane. STATIN indicated, “approximately US$48.1 million worth of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) was imported during the 2017 period.”
Imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equip’ totalled US$826.9 million, US$124.7 million or 17.8% more than the US$702.2 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, n.e.s.‟ and „telecommunications and sound – recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment‟. Expenditure on “Manufactured Goods” stood at US$384.2 million, 19.3 per cent more than the US$321.9 million recorded in the similar 2016 period, 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 – July 2017, “Chemicals” imported rose by US$23.8 million of 7.5% to value US$339.7 million relative to US$315.9 million in January to July 2016. This uptick was due to higher imports of medicament and sodium hydroxide. Expenditure on the imports of “Misc. Manufactured Articles” totalled US$274.6 million, US$27.5 million or 11.1% more than the US$247.1 million recorded in 2016. This increase was linked primarily to the higher importation of printed materials and articles of gold Jewellery.
According to STATIN, “Imports from the United States of America (USA), Jamaicas main trading partner, rose by US$260.8 million or 24.6% to the value of US$1,322.3 million during the current review period. Earnings from total exports to the USA amounted to US$315.8 million, 11.5% or US$32.6 million above the US$283.2 million recorded in January to July 2016.” Additionally, the trade deficit with the USA for January to July 2017 was US$1,006.5 million, which was 29.3% or US$228.2 million more than the US$778.3 million observed for the similar period last year.”
Traditional Domestic Exports
Traditional Domestic Exports for the review period were valued at US$398.3 million of 3.1% of US$12.0 million above last year’s US$386.3 million. “Mining and Quarrying” and “Manufacture” were commodity groups responsible for the overall increase in receipts. Notably Non-Traditional Domestic Exports earned US$324.3 million, a 28.4% or US$71.8 million increase when compared to the US$252.6 million earned in the 2016 review period
The deficit with CARICOM improved 19.8% to US$174.3 million versus US$217.4 million documented for the corresponding period in 2016. STATIN noted, “Imports from CARICOM were valued at US$224.6 million, a decline of 16.4 per cent when compared to the US$268.6 million in the January to July 2016 period. The major commodity groups that contributed to this decline were “Food” and “Mineral Fuels, etcetera”. Expenditure on “Food” amounted to US$76.4 million, a reduction of US$7.1 million when compared to the US$83.5 million in the similar 2016 period. “Mineral Fuels, etcetera” were valued at US$94.1 million, US$34.5 million less than the US$128.6 million recorded in January to July 2016. “Beverages & Tobacco” however increased by US$1.3 million to value US$16.5 million, up from the US$15.2 million recorded in the similar 2016 period.
Total exports to CARICOM were valued at US$50.2 million, down 2.0% relative to US$51.3 million booked in 2016. This was attributed to a 43.5% fall in re-exports. Domestic export increased US$5.1 million to value US$42.3 million (2016: US$37.2 million), up 13.7%. The key commodity groups liable for this upward movement were “Food” and “Beverages & Tobacco”. Exports of “Food” rose by US$4.0 million, to value US$20.3 million, relative to the US$16.2 million recorded in January to July 2016, due mainly to higher exports of ‘feeding stuff for animals (not including unmilled cereals)’, ‘vegetables and fruit’, ‘cereals and cereal preparations’ and ‘sugars, sugar preparations and honey’. “Beverages & Tobacco” earned US$11.2 million, US$3.3 million above the US$8.0 million earned in 2016.
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