FIJI'S merchandise trade deficit widened by 29.5 per cent to $1.805billion in the year to September 2013 when compared with the same period in 2012.
In its economic review for the month ending December 2013, the central bank said domestic export earnings fell by 7.7 per cent mainly led by gold, sugar and other domestic exports which more than offset the increases in fish, garments, flour, fruit and vegetables.
"Including re-exports, total export earnings (excluding aircraft) fell by 10.1 per cent while import repayments (excluding aircraft) rose by 8.6 per cent," the Reserve Bank of Fiji said.
"Retained imports, an indicator of domestic demand, surged by 18.2 per cent in the same period, supporting growth in consumption activity."
It said foreign reserves continued to be at comfortable levels and stood at about $1.789b as of December 30.
This, it said, was sufficient to cover 4.9 months of retained imports of goods and non-factor services.
In terms of liquidity in the banking system, RBF said this rose over the month to November 2013 by 7.3 per cent ($49.8m) to $728.4m and led by an increase in foreign reserves of $83m.
"As of December 30, liquidity was about $635.5m. The Fiji dollar strengthened against the Australian dollar and the yen but weakened against the euro, US and New Zealand dollar over the month to November," it said.
On an annual basis, the central bank said the Fijian dollar rose against the yen by 17.5 per cent and the Australian dollar by 8.1 per cent but fell against the other currencies in the basket.