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Data revision wipes out Feb trade surplus

MBONGENI MGUNI
Trading goods: South Africa is Botswana's biggest trading partner PIC: MBONGENI MGUNI
Data revisions by researchers at Statistics Botswana have wiped away the trade surplus recorded in February this year.

In its latest update on the merchandise trade balance,

Statistics Botswana noted that the preliminary surplus of P13.9 million reported in February, had now been amended to a deficit of P39 million. The January surplus of P1.48 billion was also revised marginally down to a surplus of P1.43 billion. The surplus reported in January had been the country’s first since January 2020 and the good figures in February had given hope that the country was finally breaking its rolling trade deficits seen for most of 2020.

In its latest update, Statistics Botswana indicates that the trade balance in March suffered a P945.7 million deficit as imports surged against exports. The trade balance, which is the difference between the value

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of goods imported and those exported, has generally been under pressure for years due to lower levels of mineral exports set against high imports of commodities such as fuel and those required for projects. The trade balance in 2020 was a deficit of P26 billion, compared to a P14 billion shortfall in 2019, as the country’s major exports slumped on the back of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disruptions in terms of markets and prices.

The impact was reflected on the country’s foreign reserves, as the Bank of Botswana was forced to make more funds available for short-term foreign currency requirements. Economists have warned that when deficits persist, they weaken a country’s foreign reserves and potentially its currency.



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