Dar current account deficit hits $1.9bn By JOSEPH MWAMUNYANGE THE EAST AFRICAN As Tanzania tries to establish who exactly was involved in the theft of $133 million from the countrys central bank, it has emerged the countrys current account had suffered a deficit of $343.2 million in November last year. The deficit recorded in the previous month was $176.8 million. But a report by the Bank of Tanzania attributed the situation largely to an increase in imports of goods and services and a decline in exports. The total current account deficit had increased from $1,294.6 million in November 2006 to $1,904.4 million last November following a huge increase in imports that was not be matched by an increase in exports. During the month under review, goods imports increased by 31.1 per cent to $573 million, mainly due to the rise in imports of intermediate and consumer goods. The increase in intermediate goods was driven by a surge in the importation of oil and fertilisers. The value of imported oil increased by 77.9 per cent to $186.4 million, said the report. In November, 221.729 tonnes of oil was imported, compared with 179,187 tonnes in October. Consumer goods imports increased by 51.5 per cent to $166.7 million following an increase in imports of other consumer goods particularly pharmaceutical products, which increased to $49.6 million from $3.6 million the previous month. However, capital goods remained virtually unchanged at $164 million. During November 2007, food imports, which mainly consist of cereals, increased to $44.31 million from $39.45 million the previous month. Much of the increase involved the importation of wheat, which rose by 114.74 per cent to $43.76 million, said the report. The increase in wheat imports was largely due to a surge in domestic prices even as the volume imported decline from 126,422 tonnes in October to 123,255 tonnes in November. The report said that during the year ending November 2007, Tanzania exported goods and services worth $3,711.5 million, an increase of 15.4 per cent from $3,215.0 million recorded in the corresponding period the previous year. Merchandise goods exports increased by 15.4 per cent to $2,010.7 million compared with $1,742.9 million recorded in the year ending November 2006. This development is largely due to improved performance in non-traditional exports, with gold continuing to dominate by accounting for 44.9 per cent of non traditional exports, followed by manufactured good exports, which accounted for 18.1 per cent, said the report. Traditional exports increased in November to $38.2 million mainly on account of the notable increase in unit prices for cotton and cloves. On an annual basis, traditional exports increased to $308.0 million compared with $296.9 million recorded the previous year. The slight improvement largely emanated from the increases in unit prices of coffee, cotton and sisal. However, cotton, tea and cashewnuts recorded declines in export volumes. The decline in export volume of cotton was mainly due to unfavourable weather conditions in 2005/06, whereas that of cashewnuts was connected to a price disagreement between buyers and producers. In the case of non-traditional exports, their value dropped from $176 million, recorded in the previous month to $168.1 million following a significant decrease in other exports such as fish and fish products. However, on an annual basis, non-traditional exports increased by 17.8 per cent to $1,702.7 million as most of non-traditional export components recorded increases. Manufactured goods exports, which accounted for 18.1 per cent of non-traditional exports, rose by 68.8 per cent to $308.0 million in line with the growth of the manufacturing sector in the country.