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Deficit to widen

Filipe Naigulevu
Monday, November 06, 2017

FIJI'S trade deficit for the year is expected to further widen as imports (excluding aircraft) growth was revised upward to 11.4 per cent while exports are now expected to grow at a slower pace of 4.1 per cent.

This was the trade outlook on the external front highlighted by the Reserve Bank of Fiji in its economic review for the month ended October.

Earlier in is Quarterly Review for September, the cental bank stated that the country's merchandise trade deficit (excluding aircraft) in the year to May widened by 24.2 per cent to $1,193.6 million.

This was compared with a 3.6 per cent decline in the same period last year.

The central bank noted that total exports (excluding aircraft) fell by a marginal 0.5 per cent cumulative to May of this year.

This is compared with a decline of 1.3 per cent in the same period last year.

The central bank indicated that the marginal decrease was mainly led by lower earnings from timber, fish, gold and garments.

This more than offset the increase in earnings from mineral water, sugar and other domestic exports.

Excluding re-exports, domestic export receipts declined over the first five months of the year by 1.4 per cent, compared with an increase of 11.4 per cent for the same period a year ago.

Taking a look back in June of this year, the merchandise trade deficit had also widened by a marginal 0.4 per cent to $1,129.7m.

Exports had also declined by 9.7 per cent to $369.5m cumulative to June, compared with a 12.4 per cent increase in the same period in 2016.

Meanwhile, total imports (excluding aircraft) rose notably by 13.3 per cent compared with a marginal increase of 1.4 per cent in 2016, led by growth in imports of intermediate, investment and consumption goods.

Excluding mineral fuel, the central bank noted import payments rose on an annual basis by 7.3 per cent in the year to May.

This was higher than the 1.4 per cent growth recorded for the same period in the preceding year.

Over the first quarter of 2017, tourism earnings rose on an annual basis by 10.7 per cent to $377.3m, compared with a 9.7 per cent growth noted in the same quarter last year.

Major contributors to these earnings were Australia, New Zealand, US, UK and the Pacific Islands.

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