2018, Bank of Tanzania said in its latest Monthly Economic Review.
This stands in contrast to a surplus of $1,669.6 million in the corresponding period last year. BoT said in the review that the situation was a result of widening current account deficit.
But the country continued to maintain impressive foreign reserves with official reserves standing at $5,044.6 million, sufficient to cover 4.9 months of imports as of December last year.
“The import cover remained above the country and EAC benchmarks of 4 and 4.5 months, respectively,” said the Central Bank report.
At the end of last year banks foreign assets were worth $966.7 million.
Elaborating on the subject, the MER said current account deficit widen to $2,686.3 million from $1,572.5 million in the year ending December 2017 due to increase in imports coupled with a decline in exports.
The value of exports of goods and services declined by 3.2 per cent to $8,386.2 million in the year ending December 2018 compared with corresponding period in 2017, largely explained by decrease in goods export.
The Central Bank’s Monthly Economic Review for January 2019, also reports that value of goods exports decreased by 9.5 per cent during the period mainly due to falling non-traditional and traditional goods exports.
Non-traditional exports value decreased to $3,260.3 million in December 2018 from $3,372.6 million in corresponding period of 2017 with all of its major categories recording declines save for gold and re-exports.
On the other hand, export value of gold, the main non-traditional exports remained almost the same at $1,549.2 million.
Manufactured goods export earnings decreased by 1.9 percent to $829.6 million, on account of a decline in exports of textile, cement, footwear and edible vegetable.
The value of traditional exports was $713.7 million compared with $1,020.2 million in the year to December 2017, mainly on account of fall in export values of tea, cashew nuts and cloves.
Cashew nuts exports earnings fell due to delays in commencement of exports whereas value of tea exports was due to low prices. On the other hand, export values of cotton and tobacco increased on account of increase in volume following good harvest in 2018/19 crop season.
The price movements of traditional exports reflect developments in world markets prices.
Foreign exchange receipt from services was $4,014.7 million in the year to December 2018, an increase of $182.8 million from the amount registered in the corresponding period in 2017, following an increase in travel and transport receipt. Travel earnings, which were dominated by tourism, increased due to rise in the number of tourist arrivals.
Likewise, transport receipt increased due to growth in volume of transit goods to and from neighbouring countries particularly Zambia, DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi partly contributed by improved competitiveness at the Dar es Salaam port which benefited from removal of Value Added Tax on auxiliary services of transit cargo.
Goods (f.o.b) and services import bill increased by 7.8 percent to $10,338.2 million in the year ending December 2018 from the amount in the year ending December 2017.
Goods import increased by 8.2 percent to $8,174.9 million compared with the amount in the year ending December 2017 with all major categories of goods recording increases.
The increase in import bill for capital goods was associated with the ongoing infrastructural development in the country, including construction of standard gauge railway, roads and bridges, airports, and ports.
Oil imports, which accounts for the largest share of goods import, increased by 1.1 percent. The value of imports from food and foodstuff declined substantially on account of adequate food supply across the country following good harvest during