Samoa Bank Reports Massive Trade Imbalance

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Export revenues down, import expenditures high

By Sophie Budvietas

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 3, 2013) – The Central Bank of Samoa has reported a 90 percent gap in the country’s trade balance, further darkening an already grey economic climate.

According to its latest Foreign Trade Report, the Bank says the difference between imports and exports for April 2013 was 89.5 percent (compared to that of March 2013), bringing the difference up to WST$77.6 million [US$32.9 million].

A trade balance is calculated by subtracting how much a nation makes from exports from how much it spends on imports. Services are not included in this calculation.

According to the Bank, Samoa’s trade balance for April was WST$77.6 million in the negative, which means we have quite a significant trade deficit.

The Bank says this jump is "a result of a large rebound in import payments despite a notable increase in export earnings.

"Correspondingly, when compared to April 2012, the current level was 66.1 percent higher," the report says.

This report is in spite of export earnings for April 2013 leaping 89 percent from WST$2.5 million to WST$5.2 million [US$1 million to US$2.2 million].

"Mainly responsible for the higher receipts of domestically produced exports was a rebound in fresh fish exports, nonu juice as well as the resumption of crude coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, beer and copra meal exports in April 2013," reads the release. However, there is some sun shining through the clouds with selected commodity prices on the world scene favorable to Samoa last April.

"These price hikes included higher international prices of banana and cocoa, as a result of bad weather conditions experienced in the West African Region," the Bank says.

"On the imports side, the price of rice went down from March 2013 while that for wheat was significantly lower. On the other hand, the cost of sugar rose.

"World prices for meat (poultry, lamb and beef) were also higher due to supply side issues. Likewise, prices for timber and fertilizers were up slightly as well."

In other good news Samoa could see a drop in the price of petrol due to lower global demand for oil coupled with improving supplies underpinning a 3.5 percent drop in price.

This means in April crude oil prices fell to USD$98.90 per barrel.

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