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Mozambique’s imports fell sharply in 2016, the worst year of crisis in the country, with a decline of 37.5 percent over 2015, according to data from the Mozambican National Statistics Institute (INE) Lusa established yesterday.
Exports also fell, but slightly, losing 2.5 percent since 2015, according to summaries published last week by the agency.
In absolute terms, in 2016, Mozambique exported US$3.3 billion and imported US$5.2 billion, the lowest value in five years.
As a result, Mozambique reduced its external trade deficit from around US$5 million to US$1.8 million. Megaprojects excluded, it went from US$3.9 million to US$1.2 million.
The coverage rate (exports on imports) rose from 40.95 to 63.93 percent (from 46. to 73.3 percent, megaprojects excluded).
The most significant fall in import costs was registered in the INE’s “vehicles and other transport materials” product group, which fell by 74.38 percent.
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Looking at where the money goes, it turns out that the purchase of machinery and equipment, on the one hand, and of mineral fuels, on the other hand, represent 40 percent of the value of the acquisitions.
South Africa is the source of a third of all imports, with a list of some 1,100 products with emphasis on electricity (14 percent of the total value).
In second place on the list is Singapore (9 percent of the value of imports), which sells Mozambique petroleum oils and bituminous minerals and chemicals like fluorides, fluorosilicates and fluoroaluminates.
Mozambique imported products from 200 countries in 2016, 11 more than in the previous year, as a result of the entry of 26 new partners and the withdrawal of 15 from the list of transactions.
On the export side, mineral fuels, with US$1.2 billion (38.9 percent of total external sales) and base metals, with US$896 million (26.92 percent of the total), represent two thirds of all Mozambican imports.
Mineral fuels have already become the second most important group of foreign revenues and in 2016 grew 31 percent (the highest ever increase in the table) and moved up to the top.
Significantly, the export of chemicals increased 883 percent since 2015 from 15.6 to 154 million dollars, thanks to the sale of activated carbons and natural minerals to India, China and Japan.
The traditional product groups “have been less representative in recent years, due to the emergence of mineral resources of great export value”, the INE says. Nonetheless, in 2016 the value of exports increased by 10.73 percent over 2015 and is the most representative with 197 million dollars (5.93 percent of the total).
The list of top export destinations in Mozambique is led by South Africa, which accounts for 22 percent of revenue, followed by the Netherlands (21 percent) and India (18.96 percent).
About 80 percent of exports to South Africa are gas and electricity, while the Netherlands buys aluminium and India coal.
In 2016, Mozambique exported to 123 countries, down five from the previous year, a result of the entry of 15 and exit of 20 partners.
The top 10 destinations represent 80.5 percent of the value, “making Mozambique increasingly dependent on a small number of markets for the sale of its products”, the INE concludes.
The Mozambican INE data reflect data collected from official entities such as the Mozambican Tax Authority and Customs Services, and omit an unknown percentage of illegally traded goods, which various authorities and companies still classify as a scourge with significant impact on economic activities.