BY BONNIE MODIAKGOTLA
Botswana has recorded its largest deficit of the year, data from Statistics Botswana released on Monday through the International Merchandise Trade Statistics shows.
According to the monthly report, the total imports for October were valued at P7.3 billion, up 35.2 percent from the P5.3 billion registered in September. The increase was on the back of surge in imports of diamonds, which increased more than 100 percent following seasonal slowdown. Gaborone has now emerged as an important rough sales centre after the decision to move De Beers’ sorting operations and sight location to Gaborone in 2013. It imports diamonds from other De Beers mines outside Botswana.
Comparison of import figures for October 2018 and October 2017 shows a jump of 72 percent due to increase in diamond value that increased nine fold this year compared to the prior year. Fuel also contributed significantly to the increase in total imports, up 46.2 percent between the one-year period October 2018.
On the other hand, total exports came at P3.3 billion, a serious drop of 45.2 percent from the P6.1 billion recorded in September. The decrease was due to diamonds, the country’s economic mainstay, which recorded a decrease of 50.3 percent between the two months. Diamonds remained the main export, representing 77 percent of total exports.
The total exports value for the period under review, compared to that of October 2017 reveals a decrease of 19.2 percent on the account of falling diamond exports.
The latest trade figures show that the country registered a trade deficit of P3.9 billion, the largest trade deficit this year, and a reversal from the P676.9 million trade surplus registered in the previous month.
In the first quarter of the year, which covers January to March, the country recorded a P956.1 million quarterly trade deficit. The second quarter was the strongest, recording monthly surplus to end the quarter with a solid P3.8 billion trade surplus. The third quarter was the worst performer with a trade deficit of P1.4 billion.