Tanzania current account deficit widens in January

DAR ES SALAAM  – Tanzania’s current account deficit rose to $89 million in January compared with $74 million month-on-month, due to poor agricultural exports, the central Bank of Tanzania (BOT) said on Wednesday.

The bank added in its February monthly economic revie

w that the country’s strategic grain reserves – which are tapped into during food shortages – dropped in January as a result of drought.

Imports in January stood at $231.9 million compared with December’s $239.4 million. Tanzania exported goods and services worth $153.9 million in January compared with $162.6 million in December, the bank said.

“The (current account) deterioration was largely due to low performance of traditional exports, particularly cashew, tea and cotton, a decline in services receipts and in official current transfers,” the BOT said.

The bank said that earnings from traditional exports dropped to $42.4 million in January from $61.6 million in December.

Non-traditional exports rose by just over 10 percent to $111.6 million in January compared with December, boosted by increased sales of manufactured goods and minerals, particularly gold, the bank said.

“Improvement in gold exports emanates from an increase in the world market prices during the month,” it said.

Tanzania and neighbouring countries have been experiencing drought in recent months that has threatened at least 6 million people in east Africa with famine.

In January, the country appealed for 100,000 tonnes of food aid — for 3.7 million people — to international donors, and says the appeal was well-responded to.

The country’s strategic grain reserves fell to 76,813 tonnes in January, from 93,051 tonnes in December because it distributed relief food to areas affected by shortage, BOT said.

During the month the country also imported 27,330 tonnes of maize, compared with just 40 tonnes in December. It also imported 7,800 tonnes of rice compared with 3,300 tonnes in December.

“Imports of maize and rice increased during the month under review, reflecting the drought-related shortfall in domestic supply,” the BOT said.

Tanzania’s key economic sectors include agriculture, tourism and mining. — Reuter

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