Exports, imports plunge in September 2020

The value of exports of goods and services amounted to $9.5 billion in the year ending September 2020 compared with $9.52 billion recorded in the year ending September 2019. This was due to a decline in services receipts. On month-to-month, the value of exports of goods and services fell to $717.7 million in September 2020 from $948.3 million in the preceding month.

Traditional exports almost doubled to $914.8 million in the year ending September 2020 from $567.5 mil- lion in the corresponding period in 2019. According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) latest report for October 2020, the increase manifested in exports of cashew nuts, cotton, cloves, sisal and tobacco.

BoT indicates that sisal export rose on account of both volume and prices effects, while cashew nuts, cotton, cloves and tobacco rose in export volume. This was attributable to an increase in production.
Exports of coffee and tea declined on account of low export volume. On month-to-month, traditional goods exports rose to $41.9 million September 2020 from $23.1 million in the preceding month, contributed mostly by coffee, cotton and tobacco. Exports of non-traditional goods improved to $5 billion in the year end- ing September 2020 from $4 billion in the corresponding period in 2019, mainly on account of increase in ex- ports of gold and manufactured goods.

Exports of gold rose by 45.8 per cent to $3 billion, due to increase in both volume and price in the world market, and accounted for 56.6 per cent of non-traditional exports. In September 2020, the value of export of gold amounted to $263.1 million compared with 171.6 million in the corresponding month in 2019.

The price of gold surged up as a result of weakening of financial asset prices. Services receipts amounted to $3.3 billion in the year ending September 2020, lower compared to $4.9 billion in the corresponding period in 2019. Travel receipts, which mostly comprise receipts from tourism, declined by 39.1 per cent to $1.7 billion and ac- counted for more than 60 per cent of services receipts from 61.8 per cent.

The drop in travel receipts was attributable to measures by countries taken to limit the spread of COVID-19, which included lockdown and suspension of international passenger flights. Travel receipts during September 2020 amounted to $65.7 million compared to $247.8 million in September 2019. Meanwhile, during the year ending September 2020, the value of imports dwindled to $9.5 billion from $10.8 billion in the corresponding period in 2019. Imports of fertilizers, industrial raw materials and consumer goods increased, while other imports plunged at varying magnitudes.

Oil imports fell to $1.5 billion from $1.8 billion, and account- ed for 18.4 per cent of goods import from 20.0 per cent. The decrease was on ac- count of a significant fall in prices in the world market. In September 2020, imports of goods decreased to $743.9 mil- lion from $820.2 million in the corresponding month in 2019, of which imports of oil amounted to $168.9 million, or 20.6 per cent. Annual services payments amounted to $1.6 billion in September 2020, lower than $1.9 billion in the year ending September 2019. This was driven by travel payment, which dropped by 41.2 per cent to $396.5 million.

On month-to-month, services payments declined by 38.9 per cent to $94.7 million in September 2020 from $155.0 million in the corresponding month in 2019, attributable to low travel payments associated with containment measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Primary income account, which comprises income from compensation of employees and capital related transactions, widened to a deficit of $1 billion from $992.6 million in the year ending September 2019, largely due to decrease in income receipts.

On monthly basis, primary income account recorded a deficit of $63.2 million in September 2020 com- pared with a deficit of $62.6 million in the corresponding month in 2019. Secondary income account, which captures unilateral current transfers, recorded a surplus of $376.5 million as compared to a surplus of $406.6 million record- ed in the year earlier. On monthly basis, the secondary income account recorded a surplus of $0.4 million in September 2020 from a surplus of $33.5 million during the correspond- ing month in 2019. This was due to decrease in official inflows.