Asia Pacific Economics – Solomon Islands trade deficit hits $298 million

Source: Solomon Islands National Statistics Office

SOLOMON Islands (SI) international merchandise trade deficit more than doubled in the 2018 final quarter as imports rose led by machinery and transport equipment.
Despite that, deficit narrowed by 10.8 per cent from $334m over the last (same) quarter of 2017, says the Solomon Islands National Statistics Office (SINSO).
Releasing the statistics in its trade quarterly report recently, Government Statistician, Douglas Kimi said the $298 million deficit for 2018 last quarter has more than doubled by 132 per cent from a deficit of $128m in the third (previous) quarter.
“The $1,432m surge in imports by 17 per cent comes from rising imports of food by 27.3 per cent, crude materials-inedible by 28.7 per cent, and machinery and transport equipment by 59.2 per cent,” Mr. Kimi stated.
“These outweighed a moderate growth in exports by 3.5 per cent that included a doubling of beverages and tobacco exports during the quarter.
“By the year-ended December 2018, the trade deficit of $247m has drastically reduced by over half the size of the deficit of $567m recorded in the previous year- ended December 2017.”
Meanwhile, on major exports, Mr. Kimi stated that total timber exports comprising of log and sawn timber increased $51.9m by +6.8 per cent to $819.9m dominated by a decline by -29.9 per cent in sawn timber.
“Total of fresh/frozen, canned and smoked fish declined $22.1m by -16.6 per cent to $110.9m outweighing a rebound in fresh/frozen fish exports by six times by +574.4 per cent the amount.
“Total agricultural products decreased slightly $2.3m by -2.5 per cent to $88m. This was driven by low exports of copra -34.8 per cent, cocoa -24.0 per cent and coconut oil by -14.6 per cent.
“Gold declined $4m by -49.4 per cent or close to half the amount, to $4m.”
On major imports, Mr. Kimi stated: “Food imports increased $61.4m by +27.3 per cent to $285.8m as imports rebounded for rice by +72.2 per cent and flour by +76.2 per cent with close to doubling by +97.3 per cent of meat-preparations. This outpaced declines mainly in fish-preparations by -64.2 per cent.
“Mineral fuel and lubricants decreased by $63.7m (+26.0%) to $181.4m. This was attributed to declines in distillate fuels (-25.7%) as motor spirits continue to plunge (-24.8%) since first quarter.
“Machinery and transport equipment rose by $231.1m (+59.2%) to $621.7m at the back of imports of shipping vessels ($300m) and rises in passenger vehicles (4.3%), offsetting declines in vehicles (goods and special purpose, -34.9%) and outboard motors (-39.4%).
“Crude materials-inedible increased by $2.9m (+28.7%) to $12.8m driven mainly by demands in second-hard clothing materials.”
Merchandise trade balance with major trading partners in the December quarter of 2018 compared to the previous quarter records the following:
• The trade deficit with Singapore, the main origin for fuel imports, decreased by $62.3m (-27.8%) to $-161.7m.
• The trade deficit with Australia widened by $21.6m (+10.3%) to $-231m.
• The trade deficit with Papua New Guinea increased by $5.3m (+27.9%) to $-24.1m.

• The trade surplus with South Korea declined sharply by $19.1m (-165.3%) to a
deficit of $7.6m.
• The trade surplus with China, the main destination of exported logs, increased
further by $67.6m (+13.1%) to $584.3m.
• The trade surplus with Italy, the main destination of fish-loin exports, declined by
$30.0m (-28.5%) to $75.2m.