WINDHOEK - South Africa has been overtaken by the world’s second largest economy, China, as Namibia’s single biggest export market. This is according to the Namiåbia Statistics Agency (NSA) trade statistics for the first quarter of 2018 which indicated that Namibian exports to China grew by an astounding 779 percent compared to the previous quarter, while exports to neighbouring South Africa only increased by a meagre 2 percent.
Even exports to Belguim, Italy and Botswana increased more than exports to South Africa, with growth in exports of 188 percent, 110 percent and 20 percent, respectively. “Together, these countries made up 67 percent of the value of all exported goods, with China lodging on top of the list as the largest export destination, subsequently making up 18.3 percent of the total exports,” read the NSA report.
The NSA figures also showed that South Africa remained in second place, with 18 percent, followed by Belgium, 13 percent, while Botswana and Italy absorbed 10 percent and 8 percent respectively of Namibia’s total exports.
Year-on-year overall exports to these countries improved significantly, about 86 percent, registering over N$12.5 billion compared to about N$6.8 billion in the corresponding quarter of 2017.
“Subsequently, exports advanced, rising by 21 percent to register N$18,829 million when compared to N$15,622 million in q1-2017. These improvements were mainly attributed to an increase in export of mineral products, mainly to China, Belgium, Italy and Botswana,” read the report.
Namibia mainly exports ores, nonferrous metal, aquatic products, fur skins and leather products to China while importing textile products, furniture, machinery and electronic items.
Namibia has historically mostly relied on South Africa, Bahamas, Zambia, China, and Botswana for its import requirements, which made up 78 percent of the value of all imports.
The NSA also noted that that Namibia’s trade deficit widened to N$8.3 billion in the first quarter of 2018 compared to N$4.9 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2017.
NSA analysts explained that the annual deficit mainly resulted from high domestic demand for foreign goods, thus, inflating the import bill by 33 percent.
On a quarterly basis, the trade deficit worsened by 49 percent from N$5.6 billion in the last quarter of 2017.
“The persistent deficits are mostly driven by Namibia’s high demand for high-valued manufactured commodities and machinery from the rest of the world as opposed to exporting mainly primary commodities that are of low value, with the exception of diamonds,” read the NSA report.