Export earnings surge by 50 per cent

Samoa's total monthly export earnings surged by 50 per cent this March due to a $3.5 million increase in domestic exports mainly driven by rebounding demand for fish, new figures show. 

This was highlighted in a report Foreign Trade and International Commodity prices report for March 2021 released by the Central Bank of Samoa this month.

Fresh fish has been Samoa’s largest export in previous years such as 2019. However, Samoa’s fish exports were minimal in February 2021 due to the rescheduling of shipments to March 2021.

According to the C.B.S. report, Samoa’s total export earnings surged by 50 per cent or $2.9 million to $8.8 million over the previous month. 

“Responsible for this significant improvement was a $3.5 million increase in domestically produced exports, which was mainly due to the rebound in fish exports while re-exports dropped slightly by $0.56 million,” the report concluded.

The report also revealed that, when compared to the same month a year ago, export receipts had expanded by 21.3 per cent or $1.5 million,  well above its average gains of 11.4 per cent and 17.0 per cent in the past three and five years respectively. 

However, total export earnings in the first nine months of 2020/2021 fell by 27.1 per cent to $70.3 million compared to the same period last year.  

This decline was attributed to a reduction in the export of fresh fish (down by $13.8 million), crude coconut oil (down by $4.2 million) and nonu juice (down by $1.3 million) to name a few.

The main destination for Samoa’s exports is the Pacific region with a total share of 71.9 per cent of the country's trade, which rose from 69.7 per cent in the previous month, mainly reflecting fish exports to American Samoa. 

This was followed by Asia and North American markets which account for 15.8 per cent and 12.4 per cent of total exports.

Meanwhile, total import payments rebounded by 49.2 per cent or $27.8 million to $84.6 million over the last month, reflecting increases in non-petroleum private sector imports (up by $23.0 million) and the resumption of petroleum imports (up by $14.8 million).

This was despite a $9.9 million return to normal levels in Government imports after a one-off jump in the previous month. 

When compared to March 2020, total imports also recorded an increase of 20.1 per cent (or $14.2 million), which was much higher than its average gain of 7.2 per cent for both the past three and five years respectively. 

In the first nine months of 2020/21, total import payments fell by 11 per cent to $616.6 million over the year. The drop was due to a reduction of 44.6 per cent, 7.2 per cent and 3 per cent in petroleum, Government, and non-petroleum private sector imports in that order.

The Pacific region still remained the main source market for imports; its share fell from 66.2 per cent to 45.1 per cent for the month. The Asian region followed with a significant share of 44.2 per cent (up from 13.4 per cent) while the North America and Europe regions both recorded shares of 10.1 per cent and 0.6 per cent in that order.

As a result, the ‘goods’ trade deficit expanded by 49.1 per cent to $75.7 million from the previous month and was also 20.0 per cent higher than in the same month last year. In the first nine months of 2020/21, the total trade deficit fell by 8.3 per cent (or $49.7 million) when compared to the same period last year.

The prices recorded for imported chicken increased by 4.4 per cent according to monthly international commodity prices in March 2021.

The report says international commodity prices had recorded some mixed trends in March 2021.

“On the export side, prices for coconut oil and cocoa rose by 9.4 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively while the price for banana had remained unchanged,” read the report.

However, on the import side, higher prices were recorded for chicken (up by 4.4 per cent) and beef (up by 1.3 per cent) while prices for both sugar and rice fell.  

According to the World Bank, the average spot price of crude oil expanded further by 5.2 per cent to US$65.20 per barrel due to growing demand. 

Likewise, it was significantly higher than US$32.20 per barrel in March 2020, which was also above its average reductions of 8 per cent and 3.4 per cent in the past three and five years respectively. 

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