Friday, September 24, 2021

That wasn’t a deficit. Now that’s a deficit

BY BONNIE MODIAKGOTLA

While preliminary data from Statistics Botswana showed that the country had recorded a trade deficit in the beginning of the year, recently revised figures show that it was instead a trade surplus. However, this will be dwarfed by a massive trade deficit in the latest figures released on Monday.

The International Merchandise Trade Statistics (IMTS) report for January had recorded imports at P4.63 billion and exports at P4.2 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of P469.1 million. This data has now been revised in the latest IMTS report for February, which now reveals that the exports for January had been understated, and the correct figure should be P4.8 billion, a figure greater than imports for that month, hence a P126.9 million trade surplus for January.

Besides the revision, Statistics Botswana’s latest data reveals that imports for February were valued at P6.2 billion, up by 33 percent from the previous month. The increase was attributed to the rise in imports of diamonds. Since De Beers moved sorting operations and sigh locations to Gaborone in 2013, rough diamonds from De Beers mines outside Botswana are imported in the country.

Total exports during February were valued at P3.2 billion, a 33.5 percent drop from January figures. Ironically, the decline was due to diamond exports which decreased by 36 percent. This relates with data from De Beers, which showed that the diamond mining giant’s two rough diamond sales in the beginning of the year were the lowest since the company began publishing its rough diamond sales in 2016.

With an increased import bill and slowed export receipts, the country has recorded a significant P3 billion trade deficit. Should the figures for February not receive a significant revision, this will be the country’s first monthly deficit since November 2018.

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