finance & economy

Uganda trade deficit widens, as imports from Tanzania hit 19pc

August 5, 2021

According to the Ministry of Finance, Bank of Uganda and Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) latest data, imports from Tanzania have capped a seven-month surge, replacing Kenya as Uganda’s biggest source of imports in the region.

Imports from Tanzania accounted for 19.2 percent of Uganda’s total imports bill in May, followed by China, India, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates, at 15 percent, 9.6 percent, 9.2 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively.

According to UBOS, major imports from Tanzania include gold, rice, trailers and semitrailers, rolled iron and non-alloy steel and dried and salted fish as well as rice and wheat.

Uganda is, however, concerned by the trade deficit, according to Aliziki Lubega, the director of macroeconomic statistics at UBOS.

The deficit stands at $105.31 million with the EAC, with Tanzania accounting for the largest share of the deficit at $138.2 million. It more than offset the surpluses recorded with South Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda of $50.5 million, $6 million and $0.02 million, respectively.

Uganda’s imports from Tanzania were $149 million, followed by Kenya with $71.6 million; on the other side, South Sudan and Kenya accounted for the largest export destinations for Uganda, accounting for $51.5 million and $48 million, respectively.

Beyond the region

Exports receipts from the EAC have grown by 73 percent from $67.31 million in May last year to $116.56 million, while imports have grown by 44 percent from $153.95 million to $221.87 million over the same period.

Beyond the EAC market, Uganda’s export receipts increased by 6.7 percent to $455.22 million in May 2021 from $426.56 million the previous month, attributed to higher receipts from bigger volumes of mainly non-coffee exports such as mineral products, electricity, tea and beans.

The Middle East was Uganda’s top destination for merchandise exports, accounting for 42.7 percent of total exports, while other major destinations were the EAC (25.6 percent), the rest of Africa (13.64 percent) and the European Union (11.62 percent).

However, Uganda still traded at a deficit with all regions except for the Middle East, the report says, citing the merchandise trade surplus with the Middle East which grew by 3.2 percent to $102.90 million in May.

Uganda’s largest trade deficit, $258.57 million, was with Asia, which represents a growth of 16.3 percent compared with the previous month owing to increased imports from the region.

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