Business

IDB reports 17% increase in J'can exports for 2018 first quarter

BY KARENA BENNETT
Observer staff reporter
bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 27, 2018

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Jamaican exports increased 17.6 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, after growing nine per cent on average in 2017, according to a just-released report from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The IDB associated the country's improved performance to increased exports of raw materials, excluding fuel, machinery and transportation equipment.

Exports grew 11 per cent in 2017, with Jamaica's main trading partner, the United States, accounting for close to half of the variation. China was responsible for an additional 20 per cent as exports to that country tripled.

The European Union and the regional market, in particular Venezuela and Barbados, contributed with 10 per cent each, while sales to the rest of the Caribbean, Canada, and Japan declined.

For the first quarter of the year ended March, the value of exports to Latin American and the Caribbean rose 10.6 per cent against the same period last year. It was bolstered by higher demand from its main trading partners, particularly from other countries within the region, and the European Union.

According to the IDB, the growth was however slower than the 11.9 per cent registered at the end of 2017, due mainly to lower or flattening commodities prices for such products as coffee, soybeans, sugar, and iron ore.

Export volumes continued to grow at annual rates of approximately four per cent, bolstered by shipments from Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina. The rest of South America — and, to a lesser degree, Central America — contributed to the decline in growth in export values in the first quarter.

“After a long period of declining trade, the rise in export volumes is good news,” said Paolo Giordano, the principal economist for the Integration and Trade Sector of the IDB and the report's coordinator. “However, the region must integrate and diversify more to be better prepared against volatility in commodity prices.”

In 2017, the recovery in the total value of Latin American and Caribbean exports was bolstered by greater demand from the region's main trading partners. However, the first quarter of 2018 was marked by a sharp slowdown in shipments to China, as sales to the European Union and countries within the region accelerated.

South America, which had registered a 14.9 per cent average rise in 2017, increased its sales by 10.4 per cent on an annual basis in the first quarter of 2018. The Caribbean saw a 5.3 per cent rise in its exports in 2017.

The value of imports to the region jumped 14.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of 2018, after rising 9.6 per cent on average in 2017. This growth has picked up throughout 2017 and early 2018, outpacing the rise in exports.

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