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MBABANE – Last month, sugar and sugar products’ exported increased by 51.4 per cent month-on-month and more than doubled year-on-year, totalling E589.6 million.

This is according to a recent economic developments reports for April – May 2023 issued by the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE)on Friday. The central bank reported that Eswatini’s direction of trade indicated that South Africa remained the main trading partner for both exports and imports.
The breakdown of major export markets for May was as follows; 71.8 per cent of exports went to South Africa, 5.2 per cent to Kenya, 3.7 per cent to Nigeria, 3.4 per cent to Mozambique and 2.8 per cent to Angola. The main export commodity destined to these markets was ‘soft drink concentrate’. Imports originated from the following markets; 82.5 per cent from South Africa, 5.3 per cent from China, 3.9 per cent from Mozambique, 1.2 per cent from India and 1.1 per cent from Ireland. The imports were varied, with ‘food, pharmaceuticals, stone and plaster, inputs for manufacturing, textiles, fuel and machinery’ being dominant. It was reported that in the review month, exported commodity data showed that, ‘soft drink concentrate’ grew by 36.7 per cent on a monthly basis and by 9.1 per cent on a yearly basis and amounted to E1.172 billion.


“Similarly, ‘sugar and sugar products’ exported increased by 51.4 per cent month-on-month and more than doubled year-on-year, totalling E589.6 million,” read the report. It was further reported that an uptick was also recorded in the exports of ‘textile and textile apparel’, which were higher month-on-month,by 16.7 per cent and year-on-year by 4.1 per cent, registering E244.5 million. Exports of ‘wood and wood articles’, which were E215.6 million also recorded growth of 9.7 per cent in the month under review when compared to April 2023, an increase of 18.0 per cent when compared to May 2022. It was further highlighted that in the month, imports of ‘energy products’, which amounted to E668.3 million and accounted for 22.5 per cent of total imports, increased by 9.0 per cent on a monthly basis and by 31.9 per cent on a yearly basis. In the same vein, imports of ‘animal and vegetable products’ increased by 38.6 per cent month-on-month and by 18.4 per cent year-on-year, totalling E324.1 million, which was 11.0 per cent of total imports.‘Textile and textile apparel’ which made up 9.5 per cent of total imports also increased by 39.6 per cent compared to the preceding month, and contracted by 5.1 per cent year-on-year, totalling E282.2 million in May 2023.

Machinery and electrical equipment’ imports, which accounted for 9.1 per cent of total imports also increased on a monthly basis by 17.0 per cent and decreased on a yearly basis by 2.7 per cent, to total E153.7 million. The economy reportedly remained resilient as imports of vehicles which, accounted for 4.7 per cent of total imports, grew in the month from E134.0 million in April 2023 to E138.6 million, recording a year on-year growth of 18.2 per cent. The central bank also reported that the country recorded another merchandise trade deficit of E243.6 million in May 2023. The deficit reportedly narrowed by 43.4 per cent when compared to the previous month, while contracting by 44.8 per cent when compared to the month of May last year. Exports increased by 27.4 per cent month-on-month in May 2023 to E2.724 billion, which was 16.4 per cent higher, year-on-year. Imports which amounted to E2.968 billion, grew on a month-on-month and year-on-year basis by 15.5 and 6.7 per cent, respectively. The seasonally adjusted trade balance had a surplus of E87.4 million, with seasonally adjusted exports and imports amounting to E2.951 billion and E2.864 billion, respectively.


The variations between the non-seasonally adjusted trade figures and the seasonally adjusted figures indicates minimal seasonality effects on the data for the month of May relative to the April trade figures.The trade balance for the first five months of the year (Jan-May), recorded a surplus of E211.7 million in 2023, compared to a deficit of E1.148 billion in the same period in 2022. Cumulative exports as at May 2023, were at E13.555 billion, which was higher than the cumulative exports as at May 2022 which totalled E11.704 billion. Similarly, cumulative imports as at May 2023, were higher amounting to E13.343 billion, when compared to cumulative imports as at May 2022, which were at E12.852 billion.