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Jamaican exports not worth cost of imported fuel

Published:Sunday | December 16, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Trade data unearthed through website has revealed that the value of all the island's exports from January to August this year would fail to cover the cost of importing petroleum products for the same period.

Total exports for the period valued US$1.1 billion or J$97 billion, while imported petroleum products valued US$1.6 billion or J$142 billion. This represents a US$500 million, or J$45 billion trade deficit on petroleum products alone.

Put another way, the trade deficit on petroleum products alone would purchase 4.5 billion $10 Cash Pot bets.

Petroleum products is a category of imports used by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica that includes the fuel used locally in cars, trucks and boats. It also includes the gas used to cook, the fuel used in airplanes and the fuel used by the Jamaica Public Service Company to produce electricity.

Critically, in many parts of Jamaica, the National Water Com-mission could not operate without petroleum products to push water up the hillsides and into homes and communities. Without these petroleum products, Jamaica would come to a standstill.

Total imports, including petroleum products, valued more than US$4.3 billion or J$382 billion. Put more simply, for every J$1,000 in exports earned, Jamaica has to find J$3,900 to cover its import bill.

Added up, the total deficit this year now stands at US$3.2 billion, in excess of J$284 billion. After the nation has collected its export revenue, Jamaica must find almost J$105,000 per citizen to pay for all the imports the island has made in this calendar year up to August 2012.

  • The cost of importation

Food - J$9.5 million per hour.

Machinery and transport equipment - J$9.3 million per hour.

Chemicals - J$7.9 million per hour.

Manufactured goods - J$6.4 million per hour.

Other items, including cigarettes, alcohol and cardboard boxes - J$7.7 million per hour. 

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