Merchandise imports into Jamaica for the period January to August 2013 decreased by 7.4 per cent while the trade deficit narrowed by nine per cent, according to the latest figures released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).
The four-year loan programme between Jamaica and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) envisages a sharp correction in the current account balance that broadly matches the improvement in the fiscal balance.
According to the October 2013 supplementary memorandum of economic and financial policies submitted to the IMF, the 2012/13 current account deficit is estimated at 12.4 per cent of gross domestic product, largely due to higher nonfuel imports and despite stronger-than-expected performance in non-traditional exports.
STATIN reported that total expenditure on merchandise imports during the review period was valued at US$4.12 billion, compared to US$4.54 billion during the corresponding period in 2012.
However, during the period under review, earnings from total exports fell by 2.8 per cent to US$1.09 billion.
The trade deficit improved and was valued at US$3.02 billion, compared to US$3.32 billion during the same period last year. "This, therefore, indicates that the trade deficit narrowed by US$300.4 million or nine per cent," STATIN said.
Merchandise imports from the United States during the review period were valued at US$1.33 billion, compared to US$1.48 billion during the corresponding period last year.
Goods from the US represented 32.2 per cent of Jamaica's total import bill, compared to 33.4 per cent last year. Exports to the US were valued at US$545.3 million or 49.7 per cent of exports of all goods from Jamaica. At the end of the 2013 review period, the trade deficit with this country moved down to US$784.9 million compared to US$996.8 million during the same period last year.
STATIN said there was a general downward trend in the value of imports for all but three of the commodity groups.
However, food, one of the leading imports, increased when compared to the 2012 period, a rise of US$16.2 million, or 2.5 per cent, and was valued at US$651.9 million.