Sunday 2021-06-13




By KWANELE DHLADHLA | 2021-06-02

Eswatini continues to rely heavily on imports from its major trading partner, South Africa.

This has been attested to by recent statistics issued by the South African Revenue Service (SARS), which reflect that the republic’s exports into the kingdom between January and April 2021, stood at E6.8 billion in total.

Some of the items on top of the SARS list of exports, which were absorbed into the Eswatini economy include, but not limited to, machinery (E843.2 million), vegetables (E557 million), vehicles aircraft and vessels (E481.9 million) and chemicals (E 673.3 million) among others.


Other imports from one of Africa’s largest economies are live animals, prepared foodstuffs, mineral products, textiles, photographic and medical equipment and footwear among others.

It should be mentioned that despite the improved imports into Eswatini, the data from SARS showed that overall exports by South Africa went down by 3.9 per cent to E161.47 billion weighed down by fewer shipments of mineral products, vehicles, aircraft, vessels and transport equipment.

SARS said exports decreased by E6.61 billion between March and April. South African exports to Asia, the largest export destination, declined by 1.4 per cent.

It said imports also fell by 4.6 per cent, or E5.29 billion, over the same period to E110.23 billion on fewer purchases of machinery and electronics, chemicals, and original equipment components. recorded According to Recent Economic Developments issued by the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE), in March 2021, the country recorded a broader trade surplus of E332.3 million compared to E108.1 million registered in February 2021 and a deficit in January 2021.

The wider surplus was explained by a significant month-on-month growth of 24.0 per cent to E2.680 billion in exports.

“On a year-on-year basis, however, exports declined by a scanty 0.6 per cent,” said CBE Governor Majozi Sithole.

CBE reported that merchandise imports increased by a monthly 14.3 per cent to E2.348 billion, however, a year-on-year comparison also revealed that imports increased by 8.1 per cent in March 2021.

It was stated that cumulative trade data, January to March 2021 displayed a stagnation in exports which amounted to E6.885 billion 2021 from E6.883 billion in the same period last year.

Imports on the contrary showed a 14.6 per cent increase, amounting to E6.930 billion recorded in January to March 2021 when compared to in the same period in 2020.

Subsequent effects of COVID-19 mitigation measures were to be observed in the second quarter as March 2020 was the early stages of the pandemic panic.


A closer look into the main drivers of exports unearthed that ‘soft drink concentrates’ increased by 21.6 per cent month-on-month and year-on-year however decreased by 12.4 per cent albeit still contributing 46.6 per cent of total exports in the month.

The second prominent export was ‘sugar and sugar products’ which increased by a notable 32.5 per cent, month-on-month to E637.2 million.

‘Textile and apparel’ recorded E327.4 million while ‘wood and articles of wood’ increased to E180.2 million in the period.

The import bill for the month of March 2021 was E2.348 billion, driven by ‘fuel and electrical energy’ which amounted to E272.5 million, up by 18.7 per cent month-on-month while year-on-year, the same category reflected a decline of 26.3 per cent.

Import invoices for ‘textile and textile apparel’ (which comprises of textile inputs) amounted to E225.6 million, slightly lower than E250.4 million recorded in the previous month.

‘Pharmaceutical products’ have normalised to E48.5 million in March 2021 from E83.2 million in the previous month and higher trends through the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Machinery and electric material’ increased to E312.3 million and ‘vehicle and other transport means’ imported in the month were worth E147.2 million. -Additional information by Business Report

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