Merchandise trade falls by 2.5 billion

By Hilary Mare

NAMIBIA Statistics Agency (NSA) statistician general Alex Shimuafeni has said that the month of November 2020 saw Namibia’s total merchandise trade declining from N$20 billion in October 2020 to the level of N$17.5 billion, a N$2.5 billion or 12.8 percent decline.

In a trade bulletin released last week, Shimuafeni also noted that this merchandise trade was also 8.5 percent less than the N$19.1 billion recorded in November 2019.

He further noted that the value of exports in November 2020 rose by 2.3 percent to reach the level of N$8 billion from its level of N$7.8 billion in October 2020. However, when compared to its level of N$8.3 billion observed in November 2019, exports deteriorated by 3.9 percent. The import side showed a negative trend, falling by 22.4 percent and 12.1 percent when compared to October 2020 and November 2019, respectively.

In essence, the country’s trade balance remained in a deficit with the current deficit amounting to N$1.4 billion, narrowing from N$2.4 billion recorded in November 2019 and from N$4.4 billion in October 2020.

“The November 2020 trade figures indicate that re-exports deteriorated, falling by 20.5 percent month-on-month and by 3.8 percent year-on-year. Non-ferrous metals took the largest share of re-exports, constituting a share of 55.4 percent of total re-exports mainly to China, Belgium and Germany. The non-ferrous metals which were re-exported were mostly sourced from Zambia and DRC. Important to note is that some commodities e.g. non-ferrous metals and metalliferous ores and metal scrap appear on both the export and import side. This is because such commodities are imported under warehousing procedures and re-exported thereafter. Hence, they form part of total exports (domestic plus re-export),” explained Shimuafeni.

Namibia’s trade composition by partner was skewed towards a few countries. China emerged as Namibia’s largest export market while South Africa maintained its position as the number one source of imports. The composition of goods exported remained the same mainly comprising of minerals such as non-ferrous metals, metalliferous ores and metal scrap, non-metallic mineral manufactures, as well as non-monetary gold. Fish remained the only non-mineral products among the top five list of exports. On the other hand, the import basket comprised mainly of non-ferrous metals, metalliferous ores and metal scrap, vehicles, electrical machinery and; iron and steel.

The composition of Namibia’s import markets remained the same comprising of countries such as South Africa, Zambia, Bulgaria, China and DRC which replaced Puerto Rico when compared to the list of October 2020. These countries supplied Namibia with 84.7 percent of all import requirements needed by the country.

On the other hand, China emerged as the largest export market for the country, absorbing 41.3 percent of all goods exports, ahead of South Africa in the second place whose market share of Namibia’s exports remained constant at 13.9 percent of total exports. Botswana claimed the third position to account for 8.1 percent while Belgium and Germany occupied the fourth and fifth positions with respective shares of 7.6 percent and 4 percent.

For this month, the category of spices, coffee, tea and mate was chosen as the commodity of the month. Namibia imported these products worth N$31 million in November 2020 mainly distributed among commodities such as spices, black tea and coffee mostly sourced from South Africa.