New data released by the Bahamas National Statistical Institute revealed a 43 percent increase in the value of imports into The Bahamas at the end of 2021.
The Foreign Trade Quarterly Report for the final quarter of 2021 revealed that the In all of 2021, the value of imports was up from pre-pandemic levels, amounting to $3.4 billion; more than the $2.2 billion in 2020 and the $3.3 billion in 2019.
“The major groups of merchandise, were ‘mineral fuels lubricants and related materials’ which totaled $200 million, ‘food and live animals’ at $161 million and ‘machinery and transport equipment’, which totaled $139 million. The combined value of these categories represented 54 percent of total imports. Other categories that contributed to total imports were ‘miscellaneous manufactured articles’ which accounted for $121 million, ‘manufactured goods classified chiefly by materials’, valued at $119 million and ‘chemicals’ at $89 million. These groups together represented 36 percent of total Imports,” the NSI said in its report.
“Categories that showed
significant increases were ‘mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials’ and ‘commodities and transactions not classified according to kind’, which increased by 138 percent, and 108 percent respectively when compared to the same quarter last year.”
Successive governments have for years sought to reduce the trade deficit and the nation’s dependence on food imports in particular.
Earlier this year, the Draft National Trade Policy was released, outlining the country’s trade challenges.
During a consultation webinar, Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis said shifting the balance of trade from a point of overwhelming deficit to a healthy balance of imports and exports is one of the most transformative economic accomplishments that any Bahamian government can pursue.
As for exports in the final quarter of 2021, the NSI said there was a 37 percent increase over the same period in 2021, for a total of $171 million in the value of commodities exported (domestic and re-export).
In all of 2021, exports totaled approximately $517 million.
“The categories that contributed the largest proportion to the exports were ‘food and live animals’ which totaled $62 million, ‘mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials’ at $34 million and ‘miscellaneous manufactured articles’ at $25 million, representing 71 percent of total exports,” the NSI said.
“The groups that decreased in value when compared to the same period last year were ‘chemicals’, ‘beverages and tobacco’ and ‘machinery and transport equipment’ which declined by 71 percent, 38 percent and 26 percent, respectively.”
According to data in the trade policy paper, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic exports performed relatively well, increasing steadily from about $400 million in 2016 to $537 million in 2019, which is equivalent to an average annual increase of 10.1 percent.
However, exports dropped by 37.7 percent once COVID-19 hit in 2020, to $335 million.