Bottom line: The deficit on trade in goods shrank sharply in February and for January-February. This was mainly due to a surge in exports of polished diamonds in February. More generally, the rate of increase in exports is slowing and of imports has reached zero.
- The total trade deficit in February was remarkable low — $400m before seasonal adjustment. This compares to a deficit of $1.1bn in January and also in February 2013.
- The main factor behind the smaller deficit was a sharp jump in exports of polished diamonds, to $1.3bn – far higher than in any month in the last year. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, February exports of polished diamonds were almost twice as high as the average in the four preceding months and over twice the amount in February 2013 (see graph).
- It is unclear what caused this and, since there was no parallel increase in imports of raw diamonds in February, it seems unlikely that the phenomenon will recur.
- Exports of goods continued to rise, especially those of high-tech sectors. However, the pace of increase slowed again in February.
- The rate of increase of imports, excluding ships, aircraft, diamonds and fuels, fell to zero in February. Fuel imports fell after their sharp rise in January.
- Imports of investment goods fell in February and over the latest three-month period. Although imports of investment vehicles (trucks, buses, etc) rose, imports of machinery and equipment fell, reversing the trend that held sway through 2013.
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