Jamaica's trade deficit continues to widen, as reflected in the International Merchandise Trade Bulletin released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) this month.
For the review period, January to August 2011, the country’s total expenditure on imports was valued at US$4,323.9 million, while earnings from total exports amounted to US$1,113.0 million. The trade deficit during January to August 2011 was US$3,210.8 million, compared to US$2,465.7 million for the similar period in 2010.
The data revealed that merchandise imports from the United States, during the 2011 period, were valued at US$1,434.9 million, compared to US$1,180.8 million in the 2010 period. Goods from that country represented 33.2 per cent of Jamaica’s import bill, for the review period, compared to 35.2 per cent for the same eight months of 2010.
Exports to the USA were valued at US$601 million, or 54.0 percent of Jamaica’s total exports of all goods. For the 2010 period, exports to the US earned US$465.1 million which accounted for 52.3 per cent of total exports.
At the end of the 2011 review period, Jamaica’s trade deficit with the US stood at US$834 million, compared to US$715.7 million in 2010.
STATIN's breakout of the major commodity groups imported included: “Mineral Fuels, Etcetera", “Machinery & Transport Equipment”, “Food” followed by "Chemicals" and “Manufactured Goods”.
"Mineral fuels, etcetera” rose by US$615.6 or 58.5 per cent to US$1,667.9 million, reflecting higher fuel prices during the review period. Expenditure on “Food” rose by US$62.9 million to US$596.8 million, or 11.8 per cent compared to the 2010 period.
“Machinery and Transport Equipment” was valued at US$631.2 million, up from US$510.9 million. Imports of “Chemicals” increased from US$419.5 million in 2010 to US$522 million in 2011, an increase of US$102.5 million or 24.4 per cent. There was an increase in the imports of “Manufactured Goods”, which moved from US$369.2 million to US$437.1 million.
On the other hand, "Miscellaneous Manufactured Articles" fell from US$311.1 million recorded January to August 2010, to US$298.0 million in the 2011 period.
Traditional Domestic Exports for the review period of 2011 increased by US$174.8 million or 41.9 per cent to US$592.4 million, when compared to the similar period in 2010. All groups recorded increases, except for “Agriculture”.
However, the greatest increase in earnings occurred in “Mining and Quarrying”. Traditional “Mining and Quarrying” rose by 50.2 per cent to US$475.0 million, reflecting the increase in Alumina production.
Non-Traditional Domestic Exports rose by 13.3 per cent, or US$55.2 million, to US$467.5 million.
With respect to intra-regional trade, imports from CARICOM increased from US$319.4 million to US$766.3 million, an increase of 71.5 per cent over the comparable period.
The growth in the "Mineral Fuels etcetera" was the main contributor to this overall increase, as expenditure on this commodity rose by US$299.7 million to US$599.5 million.
“Food” and “Chemicals” were valued at US$90.6 million and US$15.2, respectively, in 2011, compared to the US$77.6 million and US$13.7 million, respectively, in the comparable 2010 period.
Total exports to CARICOM rose marginally, by US$0.2 million or 0.4 per cent to US$44.9 million, during the review period. Domestic exports accounted for US$38.9 million, down from US$39.2 million in the 2010 period.
The major groups exported were “Food”, which grew by US$2.2 million to US$18.9 million, while “Beverages and Tobacco” increased by US$2.5 million to US$6.6 million. Re-exports rose by US$4.3 million to US$9.8 million.
During the eight month period under review, Jamaica’s trade deficit with CARICOM widened by US$319.3 to US$721.5 million, representing a 78.4 percent increase of the deficit when compared to the corresponding period in 2010.