DESPITE calls for the diversification of the local economy away from mining, the sector continues to dominate exports, with key mineral resources making up over N$4,4 billion of the N$8,1 billion export bill in February.
Diamonds, gold, uranium and copper continue to be shipped out of the country, and when spread over the first two months of the year, the export bill stands at a staggering N$7,6 billion.
Trade data the Namibia Statistics Agency released yesterday show that the country’s export bill of N$8,1 billion was still behind imports, which settled at N$8,4 billion for the month of February.
This leaves a trade deficit of N$412 million.
Exports were mainly destined for South Africa (17,7%), Botswana (15,3%), China, Belgium and Zambia.
The N$8,4 billion bill was mainly sourced from South Africa (46,2%), China (13,1%), India, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
The analysis of exports by commodities revealed that diamonds had the largest share at N$2 billion, followed by fish at N$1,1 billion, and uranium at N$1 billion.
Non-monetary gold exported was at N$736 million, while copper slowed to N$707 million from over N$1,4 billion exported last year in February.
In terms of imports, petroleum oils were the highest valued commodity at N$1,5 billion, followed by motor vehicles for the transportation of persons at N$413 million.
Motor vehicles for the transportation of goods came third at N$317 million.
Regional composition analysis shows that the Southern African Customs Union emerged as the largest export market during the month of February, contributing 33,1% of total exports.
The European Union and Brazil, Russia, India and China accounted for 24,4% and 16%, respectively.
The Southern African Development Community, excluding the Sacu market, absorbed 14,9% of Namibia’s total exports.
Subsequently, Sacu emerged as the largest source of Namibia’s imports with a share of 46,9% of the total import bill followed by the Bric market with a contribution of 21,8%.
The European Union market had a share of 10,8% and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) 1,8%.
The statistics agency also profiled Liberia, as part of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and found that for February, Namibia was the net exporter.
The country’s dependency on minerals is not new, and there are increasing calls for diversification.
Last week, the Bank of Namibia recommended the need for the Ministry of Mines and Energy to prioritise strategies to enhance local content.
“This will ensure that the share and capacity of local content within the oil and gas value chain grow to adequate levels,” said the bank in its annual report.
The bank further noted that the Namibian economy is largely undiversified mainly due to an over-reliance on mining and related exports.
“The performance of the economy has been highly reliant on mining commodity exports, which tend to be volatile as they are dependent on commodity prices set at an international level. For Namibia, diversifying the economy would mean moving away from reliance on one or two main drivers of growth.
“This would require expanding investments in the non-mining, non-government sector and orienting these investments to be weighted towards exports rather than consumption,” the bank said.
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