China overtakes South Africa as Namibia’s biggest export market

China has overtaken South Africa as the largest export destination for Namibian products, making up 18.3 per cent of the country’s total exports in the first quarter of 2018, data from the statistics office showed on Tuesday.

South Africa came second in the ranks with 18 per cent, followed by Belgium with 13 per cent of the total exports. Botswana and Italy absorbed 10 per cent and 8 per cent respectively of Namibia’s total exports.

Namibia mainly exports ores, nonferrous metal, aquatic products, fur skins and leather products to China while importing textile products, furniture, machinery and electronic items.

The southern African country’s economy mostly relied on South Africa, Bahamas, Zambia, China, and Botswana for its import requirements which made up 78 per cent of the value of all imports.

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) also reported that the country’s trade deficit widened to US$ 601 million (8.3 billion Namibian dollars) in the first quarter of 2018 compared to US$ 355 million (4.9 billion Namibian dollars) recorded in the corresponding period last year.

The yearly deficit was mainly supported by high domestic demand for foreign goods, thus, inflating the import bill by 33 per cent.

On a quarterly basis, the trade deficit worsened by 49 per cent, from US$ 405 million (5.6 billion Namibian dollars ) in the last quarter of 2017.

“The persistent deficits are mostly driven by Namibia’s high demand for high-valued manufactured commodities and machinery from the rest of the world as opposed to exporting mainly primary commodities that are of low value, with the exception of diamonds,” the NSA said.