The value of Tanzania’s exports has risen up from about $8.46 billion recorded in December 2013 to $8.81 billion for the year ended December 2014 due to a good performance in exports of manufactured goods and travel receipts.

The monthly economic review of the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) suggests that a significant increase of 33.8 percent was recorded in the export value of goods such as edible oil, textile apparels, plastic goods, fertilizers and paper products. Consequently, the collective value of these goods rose to $1.43 billion.

However, traditional exports including coffee, tea and cotton declined by 10.8 percent to $791.7 million as a result of a decrease in both export volume and prices. This fall in export prices was commensurate with the general price trend in the global market, therefore suggesting a macro trend beyond the control of the south eastern African country. Also, exports of tobacco, cashew nuts and cloves improved relative to the preceding year while the value of sisal exported remained almost unchanged.

Also in the category of winners, the value of non-traditional exports jumped to $3.95 billion in the period under review compared with $3.70 billion in the corresponding period in 2013. Gold, which had been a dominant non-traditional export, continued to decrease due to a decline in both volume and price. This is rather ironic because gold and manufactured goods continued to account for the largest share of non-traditional exports.

In the Services arena, receipts increased to $3.36 billion from $3.20 billion recorded at the end of 2013. The key drivers of this increase were the travel and transportation receipts associated with the increment in both the number of tourist arrivals and the volume of transit goods to and from landlocked neighbouring countries. This has been the trend over the last 3 years.

Similar to exports, the value of imports of goods and services also increased, albeit slightly to $13.62 billion in 2014, $13.52 billion in 2013. Despite this increase, import of goods actually reduced to $10.92 billion, from $11.03 billion in 2013 last year as intermediate goods declined by 10.4 percent due to a drop in the importation of oil and fertilizers. Just like the case in many other geographies, the value of oil imports decreased. In Tanzania, this decrease was measured at 15.1 percent translating into $3.66 billion and was driven by a fall in prices and volume in the global market.

Tanzania remains a key player in the East African region, the rebasing of its economy last year shot its GDP up by a third to $41.33 billion. The country is largely dependent on agriculture but has made attempts to transition from a command economy to a market doc my over the past 2 decades. Its President recently assumed the leadership of the East African Community (EAC).

By Emmanuel Iruobe

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