Merchandise trade sees mild growth

… as China continues export domination

By Hilary Mare

HAVING faced a constraining Covid-19 period, the month of April saw Namibia’s total merchandise trade increasing to N$18.7 billion, an increase of 0.8 percent and 43.3 percent compared to N$18.6 billion and N$13.1 billion recorded in March 2021 and April 2020, respectively.
This was said last week by Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) Statistician General and chief executive officer, Alex Shimuafeni while delivering Namibia’s trade statistics for the month of April.
In essence, the value of exports in April 2021 declined by 0.8 percent to N$8.3 billion from its level of N$8.4 billion recorded in March 2021. However, when compared to N$5.7 billion recorded in April 2020, exports increased by 47.6 percent. Imports stood at N$10.4 billion, increasing by two percent and 40 percent compared to N$10.2 billion and N$7.4 billion recorded in March 2021 and April 2020, respectively.
Shimuafeni however went on to highlight that the country’s trade balance remained in deficit amounting to N$2 billion, increasing from N$1.8 billion recorded in both March 2021 and April 2020.
The statistics also show that Namibia’s trade composition by partner illustrated that China continued as Namibia’s largest export market while South Africa maintained her first position as Namibia’s largest source of imports. The composition of the export basket mainly comprised of minerals such as copper, uranium, precious stones (diamonds), fish, non-monetary gold. As usual, fish remained the only non-mineral product among the top five exports. On the other hand, the import basket comprised mainly of vessels, copper, petroleum and petroleum products, motor vehicles and medicaments.
During the month of April 2021, Namibia’s top five trading partners in terms of exports largely remained the same as in the previous month for the top three countries (China, South Africa and Botswana) with Belgium and Netherlands making it to the list as new entrants. These top five markets accounted for 76 percent of Namibia’s total exports, up from the 42.5 percent and 69.4 percent recorded in the March 2021 and April 2020, respectively.
On the other hand, the month of April saw Namibia sourcing majority of imports mainly from South Africa, Germany, Zambia, D.R.C and China. The top five import markets supplied Namibia with 80.8 percent of all import requirements needed by the country, up from its March 2021 level of 70.9 percent and 55.6 percent in April 2020.
“The April 2021 trade figures indicated that re-exports fell by 3.1 percent month-on-month while a more significant increase of 49.9 percent was noted year-on-year. Copper had the largest share of all goods re-exported, accounting for 67.6 percent of total re-exports mainly destined to China, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy.
“Most of the copper re-exported originated from Zambia and D.R.C. Important to note is that copper appears to dominate both trade flows which is an indication of the important role the country plays as a major logistics hub for SADC,” Shimuafeni said.