By Avite Mbabazi
Eswatini’s trade balance showing the difference between the country’s exports and imports in monetary value has shown signs of deterioration in the month of September. This is according to the latest Recent Economic Developments (RED) September/October 2022 by the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE).
According to the CBE, in the month of September 2022, Eswatini had a trade deficit of E79.7 million. “The deterioration in the merchandise trade balance was due to a 6.3 % month-on-month decline in exports to E3.046 billion, while year-on-year exports exhibited an increase of 6.5 %.” States the CBE.
Although soft drink concentrates exports, which continue to dominate the country’s exports, increased by 13.0 % in the month of September to E1.379 billion, other major exports showed a considerable decline. ‘Sugar and sugar confectionary’ exports fell by 40 % to E548.6 million in the month of September while the ‘Textile and textile apparel’ recorded a decline, falling by 6.3 % month on month to E288.0 million, year-on-year this decline was more pronounced at 16.4 %.
On the other hand, the country’s imports are reported to have increased by 4.6 % month on month due to the energy products fuel and electricity. In September 2022, fuel and electricity accounted for 23.4% of all imports in the country at E730.7 million. Additionally, meat and vegetable imports increased by 13.7% from the previous month to stand at E235.8 million while ‘Textile and apparel’ including inputs for the sector increased by 4.2 %month-on-month to E311.0 million.
Vehicle imports were the exception to this increase in imports as they declined by 8.9 %in the month of September at E138.1 million.
This trade deficit of E79.7 million is in stark contrast with the trade surplus of E27.7 million reported in February of this year. At the time, the minister of finance Neal Rijkenberg had expressed his satisfaction with the country’s trade balance, noting that it was one of the reasons to be optimistic in the country’s economy “I wish to assure all Emaswati that there is renewed hope” he noted during the budget speech in February 2022.