Guyana’s import bill increases to US$1.8B for 2018

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– but exports amount to just US$1.3B

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has noted in its annual report that Guyana has imported US$1.8 billion in goods for 2018, but has exported only US$1.3 billion for the same period. That figure represents a 4.4 per cent reduction compared to 2017, when US$1.437 billion was earned.

These figures were juxtaposed in the report with imports into Guyana from other countries costing US$1.825 billion. According to the report, these payments increased by 11 per cent from the previous year, when importation in 2017 cost US$1.644 billion.

“Given these figures, Guyana’s trade balance as at end of December 2018 stood at negative US$451.2, which represents a 118 per cent decline or a worsened deficit,” the PSC noted in the report.

Gerald Gouveia

“All categories of importation payments increased significantly during 2018. Payments for consumption goods, fuel and lubricants, other intermediate goods, capital goods and miscellaneous items imported increased by 1.8 per cent, 20.6 per cent, 12.7 per cent, 11.4 per cent and 12.9 per cent respectively during 2018,” the report adds.

There were some positive indicators in the exports. For instance, the report pointed out that the export of Bauxite and other commodities increased by 22.6 per cent. But it was found that the export figures of most commodities declined for last year, compared to 2017.

“Export receipts from sugar, rice, gold and timber declined by 44.1 per cent, 7.4 per cent, 6.2 per cent and 7 per cent respectively at the end of 2018,” the report states. “These performances were due mainly to internal industry issues and falling production in some sectors.”

The PSC held its Annual General Meeting at the Marriott Hotel, Kingston, Georgetown, only a few days ago, where their report was made available. At that AGM, Captain Gerald Gouveia was elected as the new Chairman of the PSC.

The economy

The balance of payment tables in the report contains statistical data on a country’s fiscal transactions, including imports and exports. To record a deficit, Guyana would, therefore, have had to spend more on imports, among other things, than it derived from exports.

The parliamentary Opposition had previously expressed concern over the increasing deficit in the country’s balance of payments, which it had said would continue to have implications for the local economy.

Last month, Guyana’s central bank in its 2018 Annual Report had revised previous economic projections for the country, downwards. It had said that Guyana’s economy is actually projected to grow by 4.4 per cent by the end of 2019. According to the report, various productive sectors are expected to record growth.

“The economy is projected to grow by 4.4 per cent at the end of 2019 on account of growth in the major economic sectors. The agriculture sector is expected to increase by 3.2 per cent, due to the increases in other crops by 4.0 per cent, production of rice by 3.4 per cent and the output of sugar by 3.2 per cent.

“The mining and quarrying sector is forecasted to expand by 3.4 per cent due to increases in the production of bauxite by 10.0 per cent and gold by 1.7 per cent. The services industry is estimated to grow by 3.7 per cent on account of higher outturns of wholesale and retail trade by 5.0 per cent and transportation and storage activities by 3.5 per cent,” the report had stated.

Meanwhile, the report projected that Guyana’s construction and manufacturing industries are projected to increase by 10.5 per cent and 3.8 per cent respectively. It also projected that inflation rates would be measured at 2.5 per cent, owing to moderate increases in food and fuel prices.