Domestic economy contracted by 0.1 percent

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NSA Statistician General, Alex Shimuafeni (left), and NSA’s Manager for Corporate Communications, Iipumbu Sakaria.

Edgar Brandt

WINDHOEK – The Namibia Statistics Agency’s first Quarterly Trade Statistics Bulletin (QTSB) and first Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures for 2018 have been released. The GDP figures indicates a meagre contraction of 0.1 percent, which Statistician General, Alex Shimuafeni, said shows slight improvement compared to the decline of 0.4 percent registered in the corresponding quarter of 2017.

More specifically, improvements were observed in the construction sector that posted strong growth of 23.7 percent in real value added, relative to the contraction of 36.9 percent recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2017.

Slight improvements were also observed in the wholesale and retail trade sector, which posted a negative growth of 1.3 percent, indicating that demand for goods and services remain suppressed, but the numbers show signs of recovery when compared to the same period last year. In addition, transport and communications registered a growth of 2.5 percent during the period under review.

“Despite the observed improvement, government activities dragged the performance of the economy, posting contractionary growths across due to fiscal consolidation by central government,” said Shimuafeni.

The SG noted that decelerating growths were recorded in sectors such as hotels and restaurants (5.3 percent), manufacturing (2.1 percent) and fishing (13.6 percent). Additionally, other sectors that recorded slower growths in real value added were mining and quarrying (4.7 percent), financial intermediation (1.4 percent) and agriculture and forestry (1.4 percent), accordingly.

Shimuafeni added that real GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2017 has been revised downward to negative 1.5 percent, from a contraction of 1.0 percent previously recorded. This represents a decline of 0.5 percentage points.

Shimuafeni noted that the revision in the data was solely necessitated by the updated data received from sources.

The NSA’s QTSB shows that the first quarter of 2018 recorded a trade deficit amounting to N$8.3 billion as compared to N$4.8 billion witnessed during the same period of last year, implying a worsening deficit measured as a 71 percent increase. The ballooning trade deficit was attributed to lower exports, valued at N$18,829 million, compared to a higher import figure totaling N$27,1 billion.

The NSA noted that Namibia’s total import bill rose by N$6,6 billion billion (33 percent) to N$27,1 billion compared to N$20.5 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Equally, exports advanced, rising by 21 percent to register N$18.8 billion when compared to N$15.6 billion during the same time last year. Namibia’s leading export markets during the first quarter of 2018 comprised of China (N$3.4 billion: copper cathodes and ores & concentrates), South Africa (N$3.3 billion: diamonds, live animals and fish), Belgium (N$2.4 billion: copper cathodes), Botswana (N$1.9 billion: diamonds) and Italy (N$1.4 billion: zinc & articles thereof and; copper cathodes).

Namibia’s imports were mainly sourced from South Africa (N$10.9billion), Bahamas (N$3.5 billion, a vessel), Zambia (N$3.5 billion), China (N$1.7 billion), and Botswana (N$1.2 billion). In terms of commodities, vessels, copper cathodes, mineral fuel and oils, boilers and vehicles emerged as the most imported commodities, which contributed largely to Namibia’s import bill during the first quarter of 2018.

In terms of economic regions, over 35 percent of Namibia total value of goods exported was destined to the European Union, making that region Namibia’s largest export destination in quarter one. SACU and BRIC occupied the second and third positions, accounting for 29.5 percent and 20.1 percent shares of total exports, respectively.

Meanwhile, SACU remained the largest source of domestic imports, accounting for 49.8 percent share of total imports, with SADC-Non-SACU ranking second with 16 percent share while COMESA occupied the third position with 15 percent share of the total import bill.

Sea transport was the most used mode of transport in terms of exports, shipping out 56.9 percent of the total exports. The remaining 23.3 percent and 19.9 percent were transported via air and road respectively. On the other hand, 55.2 percent of the total imports to Namibia were transported via road, with the remainder of 39.6 percent and 5.0 percent of total imports coming in by sea and air transport respectively.

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